From a contemporary gallery space serving Sunday dinners on the side, The Tetley has a new cohesive food and cultural offering.

From the biblical feast to the Renaissance still life, the pop art soup can to the underwater oyster table; food has forever permeated contemporary art. Eating is a ubiquitous past-time but for those with the luxury, this daily ritual is more than just sustenance. Mark Mylod’s 2022 dark comedy The Menu starring Ralph Fiennes satirises the cult status of fine dining. 

The Tetley’s new approach is a fitting example of how creativity and sustainability can simmer simultaneously under one roof

Visual representations of meals are everywhere; food festivals are as popular now as music, markets have become tourist attractions. You can even order a takeaway in the digital metaverse. This year’s Compass Festival featured an interactive supermarket shopping experience, ghost stories over dumplings, and a sauce made from ingredients synonymous with the flavour of Leeds. 

More recently the boundaries between diet, culture and ecology have been examined, as we look to the systems that affect our changing climate. The Tetley’s new approach is a fitting example of how creativity and sustainability can simmer simultaneously under one roof. But how will the city respond to an entirely vegetarian menu?

“Leeds is a massive, varied community, and whilst there are lots of people eating less meat, we still cater for people who haven’t completely moved away from it.” 

The Tetley Art Gallery
The art deco headquarters of the former Tetley Brewery in central Leeds. Now The Tetley Art Gallery Image: The Tetley

Despite her passion for wonky veg and cashew nut cheeses, Head Chef Jade Crawley is realistic about customer demand. Brought up in a vegetarian household, her first taste of the industry was volunteering at a local fishmonger before successful stints at Leeds’ Eat Your Greens, Freddie’s Bar in Baildon, The Wild Plum, and Harrogate’s beloved Baltzersen's Bakery. 

For us, it’s about changing the hierarchy of the way meat appears in our offer, as a few ethically sourced seasonal meat specials, and roasts on Sundays.”

The Tetley Winter Menu  Photo Lisa Portinari
The winter menu at The Tetley Image: Lisa Portinari

Instead of your generic mushroom burger, here everything on the menu can be made vegan. Assumptions are inverted playfully with the cleverly titled ‘Bean there done that’ brunch bowl, which features crispy spiced tofu, spicy chili oil and garlic roasted crown prince squash. 

Ingredients are lively and full of flavour – from pickles to pomegranate molasses, miso glazes to yuzu honey. There’s nothing bland or boring about Jade’s food. But with characteristic Yorkshire humility, she’s keen to cite the work of others. There’s a pear and pakora baguette with cucumber and coconut raita on the menu which is inspired by Indian chef and author Hari Ghotra and a Tanzanian creamy coconut curry by actress come-TV presenter, Dorinda Hafner. 

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Everything on the menu can be made vegan on the new The Tetley menu Image: Lisa Portinari

Although Chef’s culinary influences are far-reaching, her list of producers is suitably closer to home. 

“We’re really proud of the local suppliers we’re working with, including Meanwood Valley Urban Farm, George & Joseph Cheesemongers and Sykes House Farm. We’re keen to educate about what’s available. There is still work to do to encourage people to stop buying out-of-season ingredients.”

Food miles were first to be tackled as part of The Tetley’s new environmental action plan, which is committed to a Carbon Neutral future by 2030. Single-use plastics have been eradicated across the organisation, all packaging is compostable and even the paper menu itself is made from brewery waste.

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Interesting options now on the table Image: Lisa Portinari

But it’s the Tetley’s collaborative ethos that has heads turning. A programme of events aims to unify the art space with the bar and kitchen. Last year, Justin Fitzpatrick’s Alpha Salad exhibition took audiences on a gastronomic journey from seed to plate through a series of bold Art Nouveau-style oil paintings and intricate wooden sculptures. 

On Friday 20 January 2023, Provenance will respond to the idea of food origins through poetry curated with The Angry Writers Collective. Set in the Tetley’s airy Atrium space, four poets will lead this interactive culinary experience, interrogating the ethical implications of food consumption. Alongside, Jade’s bespoke menu evokes the hedgerows and woodland it grew on, featuring a Vegan Faux Gras pate.

Breakfast Options From The Tetley Winter Menu  Photo Lisa Portinari
Breakfast options from The Tetley winter menu Image: Lisa Portinari

For Valentine’s Day, The Tetley will be celebrating love with all things wheat and gluten thanks to a restaurant takeover from seitan specialists, Plantbase.

For Jade, food is a way of expressing herself. “I’ve found it’s also a way to tell stories and connect with people. I do however think of taste and art differently – it’s important to me that food is enjoyable and tasty, whereas art should challenge our perceptions.”  Her dream dinner might as easily consist of a trip to Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume, built on an organic kitchen garden, as it might a pizza and ice cream. 

“Comfort food is hard to compete with isn’t it!?”

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A fresh take on lunch Image: Lisa Portinari

Consequently, her menu isn’t all grains, leaves and shoots. There’s a healthy dose of rostis, rarebits and sweet treats doused with ice cream from Lick of Holmfirth. If you’re quick, you can even sample Jade’s ingenious deep-fried mince pie spring roll served with velvety vanilla dipping custard. 

A sense of fun and accessibility is at the forefront. On the back of the menu, two jaunty figures by local illustrator Hollie Fuller invite you to pop upstairs and see the free exhibition. With its family play space, weekly Yoga classes, workshops and artist development opportunities, there really is something for everyone at the Tetley. Whether indeed you’re into art, tofu or Yorkshire Puddings. 

The Tetley, Hunslet Rd, Leeds LS10 1JQ

Follow @The_Tetley and @t_barandkitchen on Instagram

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