October 25, 2021

Online activity highlighting Leeds’ hospitality scene to launch next week

Next week will see the launch of a brand new online TV style show that will provide a platform to celebrate the city’s burgeoning hospitality scene as venues throw reopen their doors. Digital Food Week will run from Monday 10th May to Sunday 16th May, putting the focus firmly on the sector to showcase how great it is in the city.

Brought to the city by Chapter 81 and Welcome to Leeds (a LeedsBID project), its concept is simple – to provide an opportunity for businesses from the Leeds’ food and drink scene to tell their stories, reignite the passion for what they do and get people excited about going out to sample what’s on offer once again. Digital Food Week wants to support the incredible hospitality sector in the city and support it in getting it back to its former glory.

Broadcast journalists Johnny I’Anson, Larry Budd and Beth Parsons, alongside chef and owner of Holy Mountain Kitchen, Harry Johns – all well-known faces (and voices) of the Leeds hospitality scene, will be part of the live TV show, with a range of other events taking place throughout the week.

Over the last year, hospitality has been hugely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. With Step 3 of the roadmap finally coming into effect from 17th May, businesses which were previously unable to open can now see a glimmer of hope.

Speaking about Digital Food Week, founder of Chapter 81, Simon Fogal, said: “We’re passionate about Leeds and its amazing food and drink scene. There are so many businesses large and small out there that have taken a huge hit over the past year and we want to shine a light on them and get the people of Leeds excited about going out in the city and helping to kick start their local economy once more.

“We’ll be looking at all elements of the hospitality sector – food and drink, but also advice for anyone wanting to start a hospitality business. With so many businesses taking part in various different ways, the week is set to be one of the biggest collaboration festivals ever.”

Johhny I’Anson chats to founder Simon Fogal

The week will feature some lunchtime chats with topics ranging from the recovery of the hospitality sector to what people can expect to find on the Leeds indie food and drink scene, as well as mental health – an area where support was distinctly lacking for those in the hospitality sector who were struggling to cope throughout its closure. The Nationwide Caterers Association will be hosting a chat offering advice about getting into street food.

Martin Dickson from LeedsBID which is behind Welcome to Leeds, said: “This is such an exciting time for Leeds. In collaboration with Chapter 81, we have created some great video content welcoming people back to Leeds and reminding them of the amazing things to see, do and taste around the city, and this is an extension of that which goes a little deeper.

“We’ll delve into the hospitality sector as a whole and speak to people who are equally as passionate about Leeds as we are. We are really keen for as many people to tune in as possible and encourage them to come back to the city they know and love, experiencing what each venue has to offer. It’s a chance for people to support the businesses they are already familiar with, whilst also showcasing new ones they can support. With around 45 participants already lined up to speak to our hosts throughout the week, It’s going to be a truly unique project and we can’t wait for people to get chatting!”

A segment called the ‘Big Picture’ will feature chats with the people behind some of the city’s best loved indies as well as supporters of the scene. Expect to hear from Andrew Cooper, Chief Executive at LeedsBID; Becci Erbillur-Gray, City Centre Project Manager at Leeds City Council; and founder of Escapism Bar Group, Phil Harrison, amongst others, as the team behind Leeds Digital Food Week goes about opening up the conversation around food and drink being a culture.

Those tuning in can expect to hear from chef guests, such as Liz Cottam, Rob Hallas and Ben Davy, as well as buy a selection of beers to take part in tasting chats with some of Leeds’ best known breweries, such as Northern Monk, North Brew Co and Anthology. There will also be some fun show-and-tells from Doh Hut, Big Guys Thicc Sauce, Laynes Espresso, Swine That Dines and Spice and Green 

Host Beth Parsons will head out into the city, visiting Sarto, Rola Wala, Ox Club, Manjit’s Kitchen and Harvey Nichols, learning to cook with some of Leeds’ best chefs. Meanwhile, host Harry Johns will be highlighting what’s on offer in the city’s excellent suburbs and will chat to street food traders, delving into hospitality on a broader scale.

There will also be chats about Leeds’ incredible coffee, beer and cocktail culture, offering a behind the scenes look at these businesses and why they are so popular. 

Viewers will hear conversations from their favourite indies, such as Leeds Beer Tours and Domino Club, as well as learning about newer ones to the scene. Plus, various venues across the city will be featuring food and drink specials to coincide with Leeds Digital Food Week so people can get a fully immersive experience of what Leeds’ hospitality sector has to offer.

Each show will end with some of Leeds’ newest musical talent recommended by Music:Leeds. What’s more, all of these chats are free to attend and join in. People wishing to get involved can register their interest on the website and book a slot.

Where to Watch? Every event will be free to watch and available on Welcome to Leeds YouTube channel http://bit.ly/wtlyoutube or across social media including Leeds Indie Food, Welcome to Leeds and Chapter 81.