Award-winning Yorkshire chef Simon Shaw to return to his roots
Simon Shaw, Chef Patron and Creative Director of El Gato Negro, has confirmed he is to open a branch of his acclaimed Spanish tapas restaurant in Leeds before the end of 2019. El Gato Negro Leeds will take over the former site of Jamie’s Italian at 35 Park Row.
I’ve spent the last four years looking for the right location
The news sees the award-winning Hull-born chef return to his Yorkshire roots. He founded his original restaurant in a former pub in Ripponden in 2004, before relocating the whole business to Manchester’s King Street in 2016. It was an immediate success and remains the only city centre restaurant to hold a Bib Gourmand, which the Michelin Guide awards restaurants offering exceptional value for money.
Leeds will be Shaw’s third El Gato Negro venue, after Manchester and the soon-to-open Liverpool restaurant in Exchange Flags. Simon opened a second restaurant, Canto, a neighbourhood restaurant specialising in modern casual Portuguese tapas and drinks, in Ancoats, Manchester, in September 2018.
Simon is a highly experienced restaurateur with over 35 years of experience. He rapidly worked his way through the ranks at some of the county’s finest establishments before becoming the first Head Chef at Harvey Nichols’ restaurant, Leeds. He was soon seconded to Harvey Nichols’ London; first heading up the kitchens at Prism, the company's prestigious City of London restaurant, before moving to the flagship Knightsbridge store as Executive Head Chef. During this time Simon visited Catalonia and the Basque Country, falling in love with the diversity and excitement of modern Spanish cuisine.
“I was born and raised in Yorkshire and got my first real footing as a chef in Leeds; it’s always been my intention to return and open a restaurant in the city’, Shaw said.
“I’ve spent the last four years looking for the right location and when the Jamie’s site became available it was too good an opportunity to miss. It’s a beautiful building steeped in history and has the most incredible features; whilst El Gato Negro restaurants will be consistent in great quality food and service, it’s essential to me that every restaurant has its own identity, its own story to tell. Finding the right heritage building in the right location is key to that, we’ll not compromise on either.
“I’ve worked hard building a management team that sees us capable of expansion. I’m confident in our position and am looking forward to opening in the city I still, in many respects, call home.”
El Gato Negro is renowned for providing seasonally inspired dishes reflecting a mix of modern and traditional Spanish flavours and techniques, with influences and seasonal ingredients from closer to home. Signature dishes and small plates are served alongside some of Spain’s best wines and sherries.The restaurant has received recognition from Hardens, Michelin, The Times and The Good Food Guide.
El Gato Negro will launch at Exchange Flags, Liverpool, in August and on Park Row, Leeds, in winter 2019.