UK’s best ethical restaurant
Create today are celebrating winning the Observer Food Monthly Ethical Restaurant of the Year Award. For the people at Create it seems a long way from the back kitchen of a night shelter five years ago, but the passion that sparked that journey still burns as bright today.
“I always believed that it was possible to deliver great food and service and to make a positive difference to society. I always believed that was the best way to do business” says Sarah Dunwell CEO of Create.
Richard Walton-Allen, Executive Chef at Create, joined the company over a year ago from Harvey Nichols because he shared that passion. “It is great to have won this award and to have been listed in the Good Food Guide and the Michelin Guide, within a year of opening the Leeds restaurant. To me it proves that you can still deliver great quality British food and fantastic service as well and supporting and training hundreds of people back to work.”
Pastry chef Claire Burton has just finished lunch service at Create Leeds’s King Street restaurant. She’s walking on air after a diner tweeted a picture of her triple chocolate brownie, with the caption: “the best dessert I’ve eaten”. “It makes you feel sort of floaty,” she says.
Life was not always this way. Eighteen months ago she returned from living abroad with a teenage son, was ineligible for benefits and seemingly unemployable. “I had no friends, no money, nowhere to live.” A social worker introduced her to Create Leeds. “As soon as I began the 12-week course here, the clouds lifted,” she says.
The course is the backbone of Create. Five years ago, founder Sarah Dunwell was running her own catering firm and volunteering at a local shelter. She sold up and ploughed the funds into a new business, one that offers hands-on training to the homeless. Create was born.
“The kitchen is a fabulous work experience environment,” she says. “It’s hierarchical and the output is immediate so you know how well you’ve performed.” Then there’s the sense of camaraderie. “Sometimes we’re dealing with third generation homeless. People who have no idea what work feels like. We show them, then we say: ‘Right, you’re not an addict, you’re not homeless, you’re not a criminal. What do you want to be?’”
Find the full story on the Observer website here or, if you’re in Leeds, come and find out for yourself here.