Chow Down Leeds: Meet the man behind Mediterranean cuisine MorMor who arrived at Temple Arches

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The pioneering Temple Arches venue and Oliver Award winner has become famous for its eclectic mix of rotating street vendors, feeding hungry revelers while soaking up the sunshine.

Among those launching the food offering is MorMor, a Leeds-based company inspired by the cuisines, cultures and colors of the Levant – the historical name given to the eastern Mediterranean.

Founder and chef, Hugo Monypenny studied acting before running an events company for eight years.

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Hugo Monypenny, 31, the founder of MorMor (Photo: Steve Riding)

But he’s always had a flair for food, stemming from his childhood at Chapel Allerton.

“Growing up was all about meals,” said 31-year-old Hugo.

“We came home from school, had our meal at 6:30 p.m. and we weren’t allowed to leave the table until we had finished everything.

“I remember nine family members crowded around a table that is not suitable for nine people, eating a crazy roast or freshly bought fish from the market.

The Chow Down menu includes barbecued mackerel and cooked chicken on slices, doner skewers and a range of meze dishes (Picture: Steve Riding)

“My family have always been big foodies, it was such an integral part of our lives.

“Although at the time I had no idea I would get into food, in retrospect it’s no surprise it turned out that way.”

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While staying with friends in London in his early twenties, Hugo became famous for his culinary flair, often spending six hours cooking spreads while his friends were at work.

Hugo with the ingredients for his popular chicken shawarma dish (Photo: Steve Riding)

After visiting Dinerama, a street food event in the capital, he realized he wanted to create something of his own – and MorMor was born.

Hugo said: “Countries in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Levant all take pieces from other parts of the region, so it’s easy to make a varied menu.

“I love chicken shawarma, so I think that’s where it came from, but over time I’ve broadened my horizons and my repertoire.

“I like the dynamism and richness of flavors and colors. It’s all bold and punchy.”

The menu includes barbecued mackerel and cooked chicken on slices, doner skewers and a range of meze dishes.

Hugo likes to cook with vegetables and avoids meat alternatives – expect vegetarian dishes such as king oyster mushroom and smoked eggplant kebab with cucumber salsa and sumac onions.

Chow Down is the latest in a range of MorMor residences and pop-ups across the North, from a vegetarian menu in a restaurant in Todmorden and a pop-up in a brewery in Farsley, to serving kebabs in a large concert hall in Manchester.

Hugo added: “I like being the master of my own destiny, but also doing so many different things – there aren’t too many people who can see that they are working in such different contexts.

“I love creating new dishes, experimenting with things and improving myself. Every time I do something, I improve a little bit.

“Then there’s also competitive steak, where I try to be the best at what I do. The customers are the judges of that and the feedback we get is always very positive.”


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