It was probably the most talked about opening of the year and walked off with best newcomer at the 2019 Yorkshire Evening Post Oliver awards.
Feed, a New York-inspired hipster joint, took Pudsey of all places by storm and spammed the social media feed of pretty much most of Leeds.
The instant success even took owner Luke Downing (who has been in the Leeds food industry long enough to know it inside out) a little bit by surprise.
In 2018, he had cleaned up at The Olivers as he won best chef, best service for his fine dining restaurant Vice and Virtue, and the overall award for the night.
So how do you go from winning with a business where the cutlery is polished by waiters who look like they have stepped out from behind an Armani fragrance counter to making turbo shandies at a venture where customers are encouraged to graffiti on the back of the toilet doors?
Getting bored easily and employing the most controversial chef in Leeds is the short answer – but Downing elaborates: “When I started Feed I knew I had taken Vice as far as I could. It had worn me out. I have a two-year longevity with almost anything.
“When Laura (Macleod, his partner at home and in business) and I went to New York we saw what was happening there and thought it was what the city needed and we have been proved right. People are coming from all over the city to see what we are doing at Feed.”
Keen foodies will have noticed items from the Feed menu appearing on plates at Vice and vice a versa.
He adds: “It is food that would go on any menu at Vice but in a more accessible way. We are trying to create a brand and a personality, we have a laugh and a joke so it is enjoyable going to work. Bringing in Jono (Hawthorne, formerly XO Supper Club) has been a breath of fresh air.
“He is a very controversial character but the best talent and the most creative.”
The Feed award was more about him and what are now two of the most talked about dishes ever served in Leeds – cheeseburger spring rolls and the hangover cone – but it won’t stop there.
Neither Downing nor Hawthorne are happy to keep turning these out for the next 20 years, so what next?
Downing said: “After the Oliver awards we had a long chat about where we were going. He wants Vice and we are thinking about how we take that forward. Vice will always be Vice. He is a fine-dining chef and the things in his head are incredible. Us two coming together is going to be something pretty special.”
And fans of these two that are hungry for more won’t have to wait long as a new menu will be out of the oven in May.
Meanwhile, Dough – the bar that opened last year underneath Vice as Downing’s fifth business – is getting a revamp. It has been open for four months and was considered too much like Feed, so from this week, expect steak nights; fourway Sunday dinner – traditional, posh (with venison), a hungover one (cheese custard) and vegan; bottomless brunch (Downing doesn’t like them), and insta-friendly looking dishes.
He adds: “People know what they want. We want each business to be completely different. Every box is ticked and God knows what is next.”