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June 14, 2019

Arts Leeds has a new Head Chef

Arts Leeds has a new Head Chef. Meet Simon Turner

Arts Leeds has a new Head Chef Arts Leeds has a new Head Chef
Words by: Chapter 81.

That stalwart foodie haven Arts has been in situ on Call Lane for a quarter of a century. Twenty five years is an enviable amount of time for any independent restaurant, especially in the climate of the recession and then Brexit, which we’ve been struggling with for the past decade or so!

This past year has seen change for Arts (once Art’s Cafe), as it came under new ownership for the first time. Now masterminded by New Citizens, the ethos and ambience stays the same, but with evolutions and upgrades.

One of those moves was to hire new Head Chef, Simon Turner. We spoke to Simon about his new role, as well as his ethos, and the past, present and future of his cookery.

“I consider it a true opportunity to take Arts forward and to promote good food,” he told us. “I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, but want to take a small team and try to enthuse them with my passion for food. I want us all to learn and grow, and to give people fun and interesting dishes that we take pride in.”
Simon Turner, Head Chef
Arts Leeds has a new Head Chef Credit: Ben Bentley

Meet Simon Turner, Arts’ Head Chef

Previously of The Reliance, Simon has a passion for quality produce, sourced sustainably and seasonally. We asked about his career journey so far.

“It’s been a long journey, but really feel I owe my career to my Dad and his love for food. He taught me how to use a knife, classical French cooking and how to really enjoy food. Even when you’re dubious or scared of it.

I spent many years enjoying cooking but it’s only the last 8 years I’ve taken a deeper plunge into really discovering food and cooking professionally. I’ve been working at The Reliance for the last four years and am so grateful for their food ethics, trying to use seasonal, sustainable and local produce to recreate global cuisine with an emphasis on flavour and quality.  I’m so pleased with what I’ve learnt there and from my other working experiences.”

Evolution, not Revolution

Simon reiterates the New Citizens’ desire to keep all of what makes Arts special, but move with the times and introduce evolution and growth. “I’ve always known Arts since moving to Leeds 18 years ago”, he said, “and always enjoyed the feel it had. It’s been known as one of those “go to” places for food. I’m not someone who wants to sell their soul to work for a chain and cook from spec sheets, I want to learn by making mistakes and to evolve.”

So what’s going to be different? “I want to keep that bistro dining that everyone knows”, Simon clarifies, “and bring locally-sourced meats and produce to the table.  I’m not saying we don’t travel the world with our dishes, though. A British bistro to me is a melting pot of cuisines and we need to embrace the flavours and styles that are all around us.”

Arts launch its new menu on 28th June, so get down there soon to try out the great new tastes this indie stalwart will be serving up.


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