Glug x Leeds Indie Food (Glug #13)
24th May 2018
Glug Leeds #13 saw the Leeds team host a special foodie themed evening of talks from 4 of Leeds’ finest independent food and drink retailers sharing their journeys of building a brand which stands out in a thriving Leeds Indie food scene.
Keep on reading for the full scoop on what went down…...
Andrew Critchett - FishAnd
Our Leeds Indie Food collaboration night began with Fish& founder, described in his own words as “the bastard love child of Captain Birdseye and Paul Hollywood” talking about how he moved through the market like a salmon swimming upstream, managing to move from creative design to where he is now; the godfather of Leeds street food.
After a slightly turbulent time working as the creative designer with (then new upstarts) GHD hair styling products he explained how 2008 he came out a staff meeting in Headingley and decided to go for some fish and chips which, frankly, were not up to his standard. After the bumpy time that he had with previous companies, he knew that he wanted something that he could call his own; and this was his chance… Kicking off in 2010, with borrowed equipment and nothing to loose “Fish&” was born.
Going from strength to strength with a van stationed on Commercial Street in Leeds Fish& won “Best Main Dish” at the British Street Food Awards in 2014 as well as bagging a spot at Glastonbury in 2015 things seemed to be on the up for Andrew but pressures of the business came to a head shortly after Glastonbury, with Andrew suffering from major burnout and closing the business temporarily to take 6 months out from trading to regroup.
Andrew then began working with old friend Manjit of the Leeds institution Manjit’s Kitchen getting him back onto the street food scene. Now taking a step back from working in the kitchen Andrew is now doing what he considers to be better at working on social media, creative design and the customer service that brands deliver. He is currently working on 3 ventures: the Leeds Food Partnership, which looks to highlight Leeds as a sustainable food city, Wanderer Junk Food in the hallowed Trinity Kitchen serving vegan junk food, as well as running a kitchen in Lucky Number 7 from the good folks at Friends of Ham on Merrion Street.
Russell Bisset - Northern Monk
Founding Brother - Russell from Northern Monk shared the story of how he built up Northern Monk from a starter business with £5000 to a business that was able to crowdfund £1.5 million pounds to triple the business. Telling us very clearly “£5000 is not enough to start a brewery”, his journey started in brewery called Hambleton’s in York where they brewed three ten barrel batches in their first year, which to put into context, is ten times less than Northern Monk are now producing per day. The next logical step for him was to find a home for Northern Monk rather than brewing in someone else’s brewery, which led them to The Old Flax Store that is their brewery/taproom in the heart of the Holbeck area of Leeds.
Last year the Northern Monk folks were rated in the top 100 breweries in the world out of 24,000 and this year they hope to brew 3 million pints of beer next year. They don’t hold back do they! From day 1 Northern Monk have been working with fellow Glug speaker from the night Marko Husak, a school friend of Russell’s from college launching Northern Monk beers was at The Sparrow in Bradford.
A sense of community is very important to the Northern monk team with a tradition of monastic brewing that they are very keen to uphold. Russell talked about the murals that they erected in collaboration with Polish street artist Tank Petrol and Nomad Clan as part of the Patrons Project which celebrates the industrial heritage of Holbeck. The Patrons Project started with the idea of having photography on cans and the elevation of the simple label on a can of beer to something much more important. For the project they collaborated with photographer Tom Joy - Tom was asked to choose 3 of his favourite photographs and Northern Monk tried to pair the photographs to the beer that they would create. The result was three coffee porters also in collaboration the North Star Coffee roasters, using fruit to accentuate the flavor of the individual coffees. Northern Monk are at the forefront of beer and also really pushing the idea of collaboration with other local Leeds business’ which is always a good thing.
Jo Myers - The Swine that Dines
In 2011 Jo Myers took over The Greedy Pig on a quiet street in Leeds looking for a much needed change. The Greedy Pig began as what Jo herself describes “quite a grotty little sandwich shop: in Leeds on North Street”. 2011 was a very different place to current times; the idea of “independent business” and “creating a brand” was an idea that was not in their heads. A great anecdote from the chat with Jo was the that the Greedy Pig name came from its previous owner because they couldn’t afford a new sign! But one thing that you will know if ever having called in for a bacon sandwich is that The Greedy Pig was different. It focused on clean, local produce and always-elevated food that you knew and loved to a whole other level. You may notice I used the word “was” there and that’s because unfortunately on Saturday 26th May, The Greedy Pig served its last breakfast to make way for the next step in their lives “The Swine That Dines.” Their new venture will see Jo and her team take on the evening dining with what they describe as “Informal Small Plate Dining” which we can only imagine as being as fantastic as The Greedy Pig was. We wish you all the best with the next chapter Jo and the rest of The Greedy Pig crew!
Marko Husak - Bundobust
Local legend Marko Husak took us on a real journey through his life, beginning how he dropped out of Business Studies in school as he had to write a business plan. He thought it was “a bit too hard”, little did he know he would have to produce two business plans for two of the most well loved independent businesses in Yorkshire… After flirting with the idea of becoming a graphic designer and teaching art Marko tried his hand at opening a bar; and with that The Sparrow was born.
The bar has been credited with the regeneration of the North Parade in Bradford, a now bustling hub of local independent businesses. The roots of Bundobust though all started with a single tweet… Veggie dining dons Prashad tweeted Marko asking to do a bit of beer and food tasting at their restaurant that went incredibly well and from that decided that it needed to be more of a permanent thing.
Taking influences from Bollywood posters, Indian matchboxes, the artwork on buses and cultural references from India, the aim to ensure that the vibe of the brand was vibrant, colorful and mimicked the atmosphere of India. The Bundobust merchandise range has also taken off with tips of the hat to Burger King, Black Flag and even the TV show “People Just Do Nothing”.
A common theme running through our speakers talks around how important collaboration is between local businesses and how it improves business for everyone. Bundobust are currently collaborating with Whitelocks for a few items on their menu as well as recently hosting a night in collaboration with Ox Club as well as Prashad. With plans to roll out a full beer range with Leeds giants Northern Monk and to open more venues across a number of cities, no matter where you are reading this from, I’m sure you’ll be seeing the Bundobust name a lot more very soon.
And that was it! A taster showcase of some of the finest independent food and drink business in Leeds. All our speakers offered a honest and personal account of their businesses with even a tiny little tear shed by Jo when the questions came about The Greedy Pig closing up shop. We’re incredibly grateful to all our speakers for sharing their stories and look forward to sampling their delights at Leeds foodie event very soon. We also have to shout out to our co-host for the evening Mr Indie Food himself - Simon Fogal and the Leeds Indie Food team.
Want more Glug? Catch up popping up as part of CANNT Festival on the 21st June at Duke Studios for our Summer Party on the theme of Creative Passions. Tickets are now on sale here: https://glugleeds-creative-passions.eventbrite.co.uk