Ivy Asia Leeds: Meet the chef behind the sharing platters at the city's hottest new restaurant
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Located at the heart of the city centre in Vicar Lane, the restaurant opens seven days a week, offering everything from lunch and afternoon tea to dinner, late-night cocktails and weekend brunch. Those dining at The Ivy Asia will be met by signature green onyx flooring, Samurai outfits and a restaurant which features two large cherry blossom trees.
Head chef Tom Crocker is the man behind the enticing food on offer, with an impressive CV that includes The Man Behind the Curtain and Bolton Abbey's Devonshire Arms, and speaking to the YEP, Tom explained just what makes the food on offer so uniquely special.
"The idea is that you order a selection of dishes for the table, you would have serving plates at the side for everyone to take bits from and share from that. It’s very different from your more European style where you would order a starter, main course and desert for yourself,” he said.
“The idea at Ivy Asia is an experience the minute you get to the door. From being led through reception to the moment you sit down. The start of table settings, the dress wear, style of the food and the way it comes out. There’s a lot of showpieces and involvement from the servers.”
To craft the menu Tom works closely with chef director Simon Gregory to go through the dishes and test them on site. The pair together with a development team also consider current trends and seasons with a brand new pork belly dish due to be introduced from next week.
Tom said: “We’ve been so well received. The look of the restaurant, the style of the food, there is just nowhere like it in Leeds at the moment. We are fully booked every Saturday up until Christmas so we have been really busy from the get go.
"We do a lot of sushi platters and different dishes from around Asia – Korean, Thai, Japanese – so there really is something for everybody when they come.”
As a youngster it was his Italian grandmother who sparked his passion for food, making his transition into the industry feel seamless but said working at The Ivy Asia is unique.
"I really enjoy all the different personalities and nationalities we get working with us. It’s a very wide spectrum of people in the kitchen who all bring their own influences and ideas to the table,” Tom said.
"It’s such an exciting time to be a chef at the minute especially with the current menu and food that we do. It’s a very fun and unique place to work.”
Tom even offered some advice for any aspiring young chefs keen to get into the industry.
He said: “My advice for young chefs would be to be very much open minded, listening in the kitchen is just so important. Listening and learning from the advice of those who have been doing it for some years.
"Educate yourself. There is a lot to be said about reading up on the industry and learning about the industry. Start at the bottom, it is so important to learn your craft rather than trying to rush through.”