David Parkin on Michelin stars, Fergie time and why Yogi was no Boo-Boo

David Parkin on Michelin stars, Fergie time and why Yogi was no Boo-Boo

LEEDS has long competed with Manchester. Whether it is which one has the best shopping (Manchester, in my opinion), which has the biggest legal sector (Leeds, I’d say) or who has the best football team (let’s not bother going there) there has always been rivalry between the two cities which are just 40 miles apart. But now, for once, there can be no argument on one point. The latest Michelin restaurant guide awarded The Man Behind the Curtain with a star giving Leeds its first Michelin-starred establishment since Steve Baker left Pool Court a decade ago. I’ve written about Michael O’Hare’s restaurant here before and while it won’t appeal to all palates, it is a genuinely unique eating place with food that demands attention. While Leeds was celebrating getting a Michelin star, Manchester was moping after missing out entirely. Two high profile establishments opened last year: Simon Rogan’s The French in the Midland Hotel and Aiden Byrne’s Manchester House. Both featured in a documentary and it was clear that neither chef was a shrinking violet. It appeared that both restaurants acted as if the Michelin star was already in the bag. Instead, Michelin ignored them this year and both are now deflated. But before Leeds gets too cock-a-hoop, it is worth bearing in mind that Birmingham, which despite having the monicker of Second City, has often been in the shadow of its northern rivals, now can claim to have five Michelin-starred establishments. And with the opening of the rebuilt New Street Station along with the Grand Central shopping and dining concourse, anchored by John Lewis, Brum, often a rather...
David Parkin on silly season at Leeds United, petty political posturing and cricket capers

David Parkin on silly season at Leeds United, petty political posturing and cricket capers

HANDS up if you don’t receive enough emails? With that question alone, Microsoft’s Dave Coplin, who revels in the title of Chief Envisioning Officer, captured the hearts and minds of a high level business audience at a KPMG Enterprise event in Leeds this week. Alongside Dave on the stage at Aspire were Yorkshire Carnegie coach and former Scottish rugby international Bryan Redpath, Adam Beaumont, founder of Leeds-based technology business aql and Luke Allen, director of consultancy firm KPMG Nunwood. With a panel of speakers like that it made for a pretty easy day’s work for me as the event compere. My rationale was simple: the audience want to hear the speakers not me, so I’m just here to keep it swiftly moving along. That was also helped by the fact that KPMG partner Ian Beaumont, who leads its Enterprise programme in Yorkshire, is happy to create a platform for discussion rather than dominating that discussion. It all made for a very positive experience. The audience had clearly been impressed by what they heard, particularly the common sense approach of Microsoft’s Dave Coplin, an advocate of not seeing clearing your inbox as a day’s work well done. I mentioned that Dave and I were at secondary school together in Derbyshire a long time ago. I thanked him for coming to Leeds and reminding me of my inadequacies yet again. ::: I ONLY thought to myself last week that something was a bit odd. It was almost mid-September and Leeds United still had the same manager it began the season with. Then the news broke that executive director Adam Pearson had...
David Parkin gets cornered by a football hard man and finds that construction is more about thongs than trusses

David Parkin gets cornered by a football hard man and finds that construction is more about thongs than trusses

I SHOULD have known it was a bad idea from the start. Going head-to-head with one of football’s hardest men, even decades after he retired, was going to leave me exposed. But ever since I came up with the idea of “celebrating” the anniversary of one of football’s most infamous on-the-pitch clashes, it was inevitable I was going to come face-to-face with Norman “Bite Yer Legs” Hunter, a Leeds United legend and arguably one of football’s hardest men up there alongside Ron “Chopper” Harris of Chelsea and Liverpool’s Tommy Smith. And if you were compiling a top 10 of football hard men, at least another three of Hunter’s Leeds team mates would be in it – Billy Bremner, Johnny Giles and Joe Jordan. Did you know that we are little more than a few weeks away from the 40th anniversary of Norman Hunter’s famous fight with Francis Lee? If you watch the Match of the Day footage on YouTube, complete with a clearly shocked John Motson’s commentary, what happened that day at the Baseball Ground still weirdly captivates. Probably because that kind of violence is just not seen on a football field these days. And the pair had a clear dislike for each other – as the fighting continued on the pitch after they were both sent off and when they were walking down the tunnel. Dave Mackay, another football tough guy, was by then retired and the manager of Derby, and sent the injured Roy MacFarland down the tunnel to try to separate his club team mate Franny and his fellow England centre half Norman. So why am...
David Parkin on the attraction of a crowd, dull sportsmen and rock n’ roll stardom

David Parkin on the attraction of a crowd, dull sportsmen and rock n’ roll stardom

IF there is one standout funding change to emerge from the long recession and the banking crisis, then it has to be the phenomenon known as crowdfunding. A host of platforms have emerged allowing entrepreneurs to attract investment for their businesses from ordinary punters. Since it first started in the late 1990s, crowdfunding has seen dramatic growth, driven by advances in technology, growth of online channels and often, increasing consumer dissatisfaction with traditional funding providers. Originally launched as a method of raising small sums of money from a large group of people including friends, family, customers and supporters, the amount of money invested in crowdfunding in the UK has seen 100% growth every year over the past three years and is apparently now doubling in size every 60 days. I’ve never put any money into crowdfunding, but popped down to the relatively new Google Garage building at New Dock in Leeds on Tuesday evening to learn more about a local firm that is currently raising funds on one crowdfunding platform, Crowdcube. Synap is an app and website that is looking to establish itself as a leading player in the ‘personalised learning’ market. They say that Synap “uses scientific insights into how the brain works to enhance the way students learn” and it offers “intelligent algorithms” that allows people to learn more in less time. Put simply, it allows students and lecturers to upload multiple choice quizzes for exam revision and courses which can be shared with other uses. The clever bit is that the site then notifies users when the next best time to test themselves is. Founders James...