New Head Chef for Convive – £2m Leeds Restaurant Prepares for Take-Off

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New Head Chef for Convive francis cowlam

New Head Chef for Convive

Chef prepares for take-off at £2m Leeds restaurant

A head chef with over 17 years’ experience of cooking Mediterranean food has been appointed to ensure a new £2m Leeds restaurant gets off to a flying start. Leeds-born chef Francis Cowlam (32) has been appointed by managing director of Weetwood Hall, Martin Hicks, the man behind Leeds’ newest restaurant venture, ‘Convive’.

Convive is a new-build authentic Mediterranean restaurant that will bring a Mediterranean lifestyle to the suburbs of Leeds. The new restaurant is part of the University of Leeds’s Weetwood Hall estate. It will retain an independent identity of its ow and is open to customers looking for a high quality dining experience outside of the city centre as well as guests staying at the popular hotel complex.

Francis Cowlam has previously worked as head chef at a number of leading Mediterranean and Italian restaurants in the region. These include Piccolinos, Gusto and Blackhouse Bar & Grill, as well as a number of independent smaller Italian restaurants. In  these he developed his flair for Italian-inspired dishes. Francis also lived in Spain for over two years working in authentic, family-owned restaurants cooking for locals and tourists.

New Head Chef for Convive restauranteur martin hicks

Managing director of Weetwood Hall, Martin Hicks

New Head Chef for Convive: “Freshness and vibrancy”

At Convive, Francis will lead of brigade of 12 chefs and manage the brand new, state of the art £450k kitchen. He will work closely with respected Leeds restaurateur Martin Pickles, who is Convive’s head of operations. Francis’ first recruit is talented sous chef Najam Ur Rehman. Najam was previously at Brasserie Blanc in Leeds. Prior to this he was resident in Lombardy, Italy for over 15 years. While there he ran his own restaurant working with some of the world’s leading chefs.

Francis says: “This is the opportunity of a lifetime. I can’t wait to get everything in place ready for opening. The vision and investment at Convive is on a scale like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I’m really looking forward to asserting my Mediterranean influence on the menu. The freshness and vibrancy of the food and the fact that we’ll be sourcing locally as much as we can and applying a Mediterranean twist means we’ll be supporting lots of great suppliers on our doorstep.”

Convive is a 120 seat restaurant and bar where guests will be able to enjoy a full dining experience including an alfresco area under a retractable roof within the gardens. It will be twinned with Mediterranean restaurants across Europe creating inspiration through innovative chef swaps and ingredient sourcing on quality food and drink. Many ingredients used in the kitchens will be sourced from local Yorkshire farmers.

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