28/09/15Your stories

Yesterday saw the eagerly anticipated launch of The Pig & Pastry Cook Book at a charity brunch as the venue.  All proceeds of sales yesterday will be donated to Candlelighters and all the amazing team there gave their time for free.  We were thrilled to see customers buying books in their droves and we’re proud to be distributing the book in our online shop – get your copy here for just £20 + £2.50 p&p.

To whet your appetite, this is what chef and dad Steve Holding wrote in his foreword.

For me, The Pig & Pastry isn’t just about the food.  I know, this is a cook book.  But look at the cafe from my perspective (peering out from the kitchen): I don’t see people coming in just to eat, the food is secondary to why you lovely people are here.  It’s not often that I get the opportunity, and when I do it’s a real kick out of just stopping to look out into the cafe and taking it all in,  It’s busy, it’s loud, there’s lots of banter between the staff and customers, there’s an energy.  People are chatting and laughing, enjoying each other’s company.  People are sharing tables and striking up conversations with strangers.

One of my favourite things is when I see someone who has been stuck in the queue for a while place their order and look for somewhere to sit.  Perhaps they’ll look a bit grumpy, reluctantly ask other guests if the empty seat at their table is free and sit down. ‘Damn this guy’s not happy about sharing’ I think to mysel, but then moments later I’ll see the whole table chatting and joking with each other.

When we opened we had in mind that the big table in the window would be a sharing table. It was a gamble really – I’d seen it in a cafe where I used to stop off for a coffee on my way to work in London and really liked the idea. What I didn’t expect was that customers would also start sharing little tables (don’t ever come here on a first date). I now know that some friendships have been made in The Pig – I was once invited to a customer’s party, there were lots of other customers there too and when I chatted to them I was surprised to find out that most of them knew each other because of the cafe: I’d always thought many of them had already been friends.

Back in 2008, Julia was still a children’s nurse and I was happy as a chef
out in the country where we’d just won Yorkshire Life Pub Restaurant of The Year. Then our good friends Nicki and Graham told us about the ’empty shop round the corner’. We started to think about opening a restaurant, did our research, did some sums, talked ourselves out of it, put the idea aside. Then on a trip to London we fell in love with a couple of deli/cafes. So we came back, did our sums again and then got excited about opening our own deli/cafe. It was at the time of the financial crisis, so the excitement and giddiness was soon replaced by worry and night tremors. Banks and well established companies were folding every day on the news, the story of the economy was bleak. Some friends told us that it wouldn’t work, not because the economy was terrible, but because the neighbourhood was just the wrong location. Well, we carried on and opened regardless and sometimes it’s just oh-so sweet to prove people wrong.

In the summer of 2012, our little girl was taken ill, and was diagnosed with a serious brain tumour. A number of operations, intensive radiotherapy and almost a year of chemotherapy followed for Ruby at Leeds General Infirmary and St James’ Hospital in Leeds.  For me, the first few weeks of that summer are a hazy blur, but we’ll never forget the generosity and compassion of customers, staff and friends at that time. People offered to wash up at the cafe (even though they were terrible at it!), they drove us to Leeds, brought in audiobooks and fun tactile games (Ruby completely lost her sight as a result of the tumour), and showed their support by organising fundraisers for the charities helping Ruby. All the letters and the cards of support made a real difference too. I always knew we lived in a lovely area, but I never really understood the great sense of community that we have here until that summer of 2012.


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