David Parkin on bake offs, chefs and Christmas wishes

David Parkin on bake offs, chefs and Christmas wishes

IF I hadn’t embraced the Christmas spirit this festive season, then there was the perfect opportunity to do it at an event at the Andaz Hotel next to Liverpool Street Station in London this week. The Andaz, formerly known as the Great Eastern Hotel, is an impressive part of Hyatt Hotels’ portfolio of London properties. The group’s UK sales team hosted a lunch at the hotel which featured a Great Germanic Bake Off. Fortunately, after donning our aprons, we didn’t have to bake cakes, just stack and decorate gingerbread stars in the shape of a Christmas tree. I clearly hadn’t indulged in the wine too much over lunch as I displayed a steady hand with the piping bag containing the icing, even ‘double dotting’ a few of my gingerbread stars. So what is the difference between a Germanic bake off and its British counterpart? Well, for one thing, you don’t get the awful puns involving soggy bottoms, buns and baps. If you look closely enough, you can see me holding my baking triumph in the photo above, alongside the Hyatt team, a glamorous bunch. These days it seems everything needs to be accompanied by a hashtag. Perhaps mine should be #nevermindthesizelookatthequalityoftheicing ::: ENJOYING the Yorkshire Asian Business Association advisory board annual Christmas meal last night, I gazed out of the window of Peachy Keens Indian buffet restaurant. It overlooks Millennium Square in Leeds, currently home to the city’s annual German Christmas Market. I’ve made unfavourable comparisons before between the city’s festive market compared to those of Birmingham and Manchester. It looks from the outside like a shanty town. Mind...
David Parkin on muppets and the War of the Roses and Talking Heads on squawking iPads

David Parkin on muppets and the War of the Roses and Talking Heads on squawking iPads

THEY sit like uneasy neighbours squabbling over the size of a privet hedge between their houses. The North West and Yorkshire have had a rivalry stretching back to the Wars of the Roses. Now the argument is often over the respective merits of each region’s economy, particularly over whether Manchester outshines Leeds when it comes to finance and commerce. There is no easy way to settle such an argument but a recently published book perhaps highlights the differences between the two. If you think I’m going to quote from some crusty economy tome, don’t worry. And I won’t be delving back into classic literature either. I’ve never really appreciated a bit of Trollope. No, I’ve been reading a book called ’40 By 40’, a fascinating bit of pulp fiction by Michael Taylor, the former editorial director of Insider business magazine. The book charts the seemingly inexorable rise of fictional Cheshire businessman Roger Cashmore, a man whose life’s ambition is to make £40m by the time he hits 40. But then the financial crash of 2008 hits and the book charts Cashmore’s challenges while facing the chill winds of recession among the bling-bling Cheshire set of footballers and entrepreneurs. Taylor’s talent is combining real people from the world of business and sport with a host of fictional characters such as Jesu Bravado, a “footballer and swordsman” and Wayne Bellamy, described as “corporate finance adviser and muppet”. To make sure his lawyers aren’t working over time, Michael has made sure to only portray the fictional characters as bed-hopping “muppets” or “fit birds”, while the real people are all “great lads”. What...
David Parkin on city success, Christmas in the Long Room and strangers on a train

David Parkin on city success, Christmas in the Long Room and strangers on a train

LEEDS has been named the best big city in England to live in. That was the result of a survey this week where Yorkshire’s biggest city beat six other major English cities including Manchester and Birmingham in MoneySuperMarket’s 2015 quality of living index. Apparently it scored highly in a number of categories with Leeds residents enjoying an average annual salary of £22,419 compared to £19,801 in Bradford and £20,382 in Sheffield. House price affordability in Leeds was favourable, while the unemployment rate is listed as eight per cent in the city compared to 10.3%  in Birmingham and 10.6% t in Liverpool. I discussed the merits of the city while lunching with Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan the other day. I always enjoy catching up with Tom because he has a refreshing lack of ego for one in such a senior role and we can always discuss the fortunes of our respective football teams in the Championship – Derby and Middlesbrough. Although Tom’s next visit to Elland Road might earn him a frosty reception from Leeds owner Massimo Cellino after he sat next to Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson as his guest at a recent match against Leeds. On more serious matters, I told Tom it was great that Leeds has so many positives to talk about currently. From the ongoing success of the first direct Arena to new office developments, the Trinity shopping centre and the new Victoria Gate retail quarter, there is plenty going on. And the  announcement this week of ambitious plans to create the biggest railway station in the North of England in Leeds combining...