'People care about their impact': How Eat Your Greens chef Jade Crawley is changing the way Leeds diners think about food

Grocery shop by day, restaurant by night - Eat Your Greens is changing the way diners in Leeds think about food.

By Abbey Maclure
Saturday, 15th May 2021, 11:45 am

Head chef Jade Crawley is the mastermind behind the restaurant's organic, largely plant-based menu after taking over the role in March 2020.

Her dishes are inspired by the fresh produce which arrives in the shop each day, from Yorkshire asparagus and Spanish fruit to organic nut butter.

Jade, who grew up near Leeds, is a self-trained chef and that's reflected in her food - she bends boundaries and puts twists on classic dishes.

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Jade Crawley, head chef at Leeds restaurant Eat Your Greens

“I grew up in a big foodie family," Jade, 32, told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

"My mum’s a brilliant cook and I used to spend a lot of time in Cornwall at my auntie’s house.

"She grew veg and they had a little fishing boat, so I’d go out and catch mackerel, pick vegetables from their garden and cook it straight away."

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There's a growing demand for diners to know where their food comes from and its impact on the planet, Jade said

Jade has worked at several restaurants in Harrogate and Leeds, before landing the head chef role at Eat Your Greens just two weeks before the first lockdown.

Thankfully, the New York Street restaurant has fallen on its feet during the pandemic, expanding its grocery shop and operating as a takeaway business.

Jade added: “Because we’re a grocery store and we’ve got the organic veg coming in, I’m reactive to what comes into the shop.

“I come into work and there's some amazing Yorkshire asparagus, or we’ve got loquats at the moment which are a Spanish fruit.

Jade making her Burmese-spiced tofu at the restaurant

“I can see the produce in front of me on the shelves and that sparks the process for me. It’s a dream.”

There's a growing demand for diners to know where their food comes from and its impact on the planet, Jade said, and that drives her menus.

“Once you’ve got that understanding, it becomes incorporated into the way you work," Jade said.

"We all care about the impact we have, even at the consumer level. People are so much more educated.”

Despite the hectic lifestyle associated with being a chef, Jade said there is a much more pleasant atmosphere in kitchens than when she started her career.

“When I was 18 and doing prep chef jobs, it was a bit of a ‘boys club’, people not being the nicest to each other," she said.

“But the lifestyle has changed a lot recently. You’ve got to get up early and be organised, but we want people to have a life as well.

"There’s a lot of experience in this building and we can all put our heads together and spark ideas off each other. We’re all friends and we all love food."

After welcoming diners back to its refurbished 'kerbside terrace' last month, Eat Your Greens will reopen its indoor seating on Monday,

Jade added: “We’ve always got something for everyone. As much as we’re creative and offer a mainly plant-based menu, we have really high quality, organic meat as well.

“If you want something with a bit of discovery or to try an ingredient or spice that you’ve not tried before, we offer that.

"At the same time, if you want to come in at lunchtime, we’ve got some banging sandwiches.”

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