Leeds Hospitality – United with Ukraine at Crowd of Favours

As the world watches in horror and disbelief at the events unfolding in Ukraine, the sheer scale of the humanitarian crisis is rapidly coming into full, unavoidable view. But the world is not looking away and it’s truly inspiring to hear the single, pressing question on so many people’s lips: “How can I help?”

One swift answer came from independent chef and popup event aficionado Harry – a.k.a. Holy Mountain Kitchen. This unassuming hero has been dishing up deliciously decadent, locally sourced but globally inspired ‘comfort food’ throughout the City for many years now. This includes stints at Northern Monk Brewery and the ultimate end of the night food and cocktails hangout, The Watermark.

Side note: It was at The Watermark that I first experienced Harry’s version of the Breakfast McMuffin. In short, his creation was genius! Even as I type, the memory of that unbelievably moreish ‘late night snack’ is triggering my Pavlovian response, so let’s move on…..

It takes a village

Although he’s certainly no stranger to lending his skills to fundraise and support numerous important causes, this was far from a solo exercise. Instead, the entire event was a created through collaboration, support and very generous donations from several local businesses: @Haxbybaker (haxbybakehouse.co.uk) donated the beautiful soft bread for the menu, @Leedsbrewery (leedsbrewery.co.uk) donated their popular Monsoon IPA for diners to wash it all down with, @swine_piesandpuds (swinethatdines.co.uk) provided desserts, @bundobustmarko and @bundobust (bundobust.com) guided the charity selection – more on that below – and of course, @schnitfaced (head chef Anthony Ashton) was on hand to tackle the kitchen challenges at the event venue @crowdoffavours (crowdoffavours.co.uk).

An astonishing level of commitment and a heartwarming outpouring of generosity from all involved, including of course the general public, who turned up to spend their money for the cause.

Eat out to help out

The menu presented an easy choice for diners, offering intentionally straightforward, unpretentious and comfortingly familiar fare, with a decent selection of both vegetarian and vegan options available. The classic cheeseburger (or vegan burger) didn’t disappoint, but it was clearly the Chicken Kyiv sando that tickled the most tastebuds. A hand-made kyiv that also borrows a little from the schnitzel, so as to better suit being served in a bun. Filled with rich garlic butter, nestled on a bed of fresh, crunchy coleslaw and topped with a delicious burger sauce, it was a hearty and satisfying bite that seemed to go down really well with customers throughout the day.

Honourable mention has to go to the cracking selection of sides, and specifically the lasagne loaded fries, with their gooey, cheesy, rich and warming goodness just perfect for sharing.

For those brave souls who felt confident that, yes, there was room for more, the ever-inventive chef at The Swine That Dines provided a selection of desserts. While I wasn’t one of the brave this time, I’ve eaten there before, and If you haven’t already, do consider showing them some love and seeing what they have to offer.

Sing for your supper

I can’t decide if it was intentional or not, but the charity event was held on a Tuesday, which happens to be the same night Crowd of Favours holds an open mic music night. Whether by luck or judgement, those who joined the event later on in the day (as I did) were treated to a great selection of local talent while they ate, drank, and felt good about supporting a great cause.

It has to be said, Crowd of Favours felt like a very welcoming venue, and one that I’d happily revisit. Staff were attentive and friendly, there was a really positive and relaxed vibe about the place, and the fact that the owners were so keen to be a part of this event and show their support shouldn’t be overlooked.

High impact help

All proceeds from the event will be donated to www.unitedwithukraine.org and for any who were unable to attend the popup event, I would encourage you to visit their website to see how you can support their mission. The charity focuses on rapid delivery of essential medical supplies to hospitals throughout Ukraine via the Polish border, as well as delivering high impact non-medical supplies such as batteries, torches, tents and more. So far, they’ve received over £82,000 in donations and more than £500,000 of medical supplies – all of which has been successfully delivered and is – quite literally – saving lives.

Photography by Mark Wheelwright.

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