Leeds chef and Masterchef star Matt Healy has gone back to basics with simple grub at Forde in Horsforth

He's won numerous awards, opened several restaurants and become a household name in the Leeds food scene.

By Abbey Maclure
Saturday, 14th May 2022, 4:30 pm

But Matt Healy has gone back to basics with his latest venture, Forde, where he proudly serves simple, unfussy Yorkshire grub.

The Horsforth-born chef started his career just metres away from his new restaurant on Town Street, as a pot wash at the former Fat Francos.

“It’s really nice to be back in Horsforth, adding to the vibrant scene that’s already here," Matt told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

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Leeds chef Matt Healy outside his Horsforth restaurant Forde, which opened at the end of last year (Photo: James Hardisty)

“It was supposed to be just a coffee shop.

"My confidence was so low after losing The Foundry and selling Grön. I wanted to come back and do something that was so far in my comfort zone that I couldn’t possibly fail.

“But it was my partner Holly who said, ‘what are you doing that for? You’re so good’."

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Matt is proud to serve simple food without the fuss, going back to basics (Photo: James Hardisty)

Matt shot to fame after getting to the final of Masterchef: The Professionals in 2016.

He took a step back from many of his ventures during the pandemic; he left Leeds gastropub The Beehive just before the first lockdown.

In November 2020, he announced the permanent closure of his Holbeck restaurant the Foundry, and later sold his cafe chain Grön.

Matt said: “I found the pandemic incredibly difficult - losing The Foundry and making some bad decisions.

"But now being able to do my own thing, it’s freeing.

"I wanted to keep the coffee and brunch element to it, but utilise the space, which is where the small plates and caricature idea came from.

“The Foundry was always about that, but a lot of it was ego-led, coming off the back of Masterchef.

"At the Forde, there’s no ego attached to it.

"There’s no microherbs or edible flowers, the food just is what it is. It’s good, simple food - it’s not a turd rolled in glitter."

Offering brunch and coffee by day, and Yorkshire charcuterie, local cheese, small plates and fine wines by night, the menu at Forde revolves around what's in season.

And it has raised a few eyebrows since it opened at the end of last year.

Matt said: "People had an expectation of what I was going to bring; my reputation exceeded me.

"But once people get over that, they love it. It’s just a lovely little unpretentious spot that does small plates."

Matt has been working in Leeds for more than two decades and said it's an exciting time for the city's food scene.

“It’s mental how much it’s changed," he said.

"There used to be Italian and Indian restaurants - and that was it. It’s so diverse now, from Michael O’Hare at Man Behind the Curtain, to getting a sandwich from OWT at the Corn Exchange.

"I still think it’s a little bit behind London, but it’s on the way there.

“There’s more independent coffee shops, street food traders, fine dining restaurants, tapas places and one-man-band independents - which is so exciting.”

“The proudest moment of my career is opening Forde," he added.

"It’s a standalone project with my partner Holly. I owe it all to her, she’s given me the confidence to do it and believe in myself.”