Ellie Warner is Leeds born and bred and proud of her roots in the city. As a hairdresser in the centre, she knows plenty of people here, and as a face off the telly with her sister Izzi, plenty of people think they know her. “I get a lot of people saying “Where do I know you from?” And I don’t like to say because they might not even watch it” she says. So instead, we asked Ellie a different question: what do you love about Leeds?
My great grandad was a market trader in Leeds market; my dad is one of six children and he and three brothers also became market traders. One brother – my uncle Damien – still has a fruit and veg stall (Steve’s Fruit and Veg) on the outside there now. And Shaun (M&S Dolan greengrocers) is my godfather. My mum’s dad was also a greengrocer; he had a shop in Harrogate and a market stall in Knaresborough. My mum and dad met at Knaresborough Market when she was working on her dad’s stall and he was working on another fruit and veg stall there.
My first Saturday job was working at Leeds market for my dad and my uncle – stacking bananas and being their go-fer! I used to love all the customers and got to know a lot of them – some of the regulars would bring me homemade food in, things like pakoras, cooked plantain and foreign sweets. It was absolutely buzzing, every unit was filled, the outdoor car park was heaving, there were queues outside Graveleys fish and chips. Leeds needs the market to be thriving.
I still shop in the market and like to support all the traders; herbs and spices from AJ and Spice Corner, the double yolk eggs from Whitakers, meat from JP Johnston and Nigel Gifford, sweet bakes from Karpaty, oven bottom cakes from Firth & Payne, sewing fabrics from B&M, keys cut at Toolbox… And I’ll go for lunch at Chop Chop, Bahn & Mee, The Yorkshire Wrap Company, Jenny’s Jerk Chicken…
My dad’s side of the family were from Harehills and I’ve got lots of happy memories of going to my nana’s house there. It was so multi-cultural and I remember her neighbours would offer me things from their heritage; one of them even gave me a sari which I loved. Later she moved to the Chapeltown / Chapel Allerton area and my nana would take me to the carnival. There are so many great areas in Leeds with their own character – I’m from east Leeds and live near Temple Newsam now, it’s within walking distance and is one of my favourite places to visit.
I was a bit of an indie kid. When I started going out there used to be a place next to the big Boots in town, downstairs to a basement (Mixing Tin, Trash, Mr Bens) – I don’t know what I got up to in there! I’d go to The Cockpit on a Friday night, The Faversham on a Saturday, then die in bed with a hangover on a Sunday! And I loved going to Brighton Beach at Leeds University. I remember going to lots of gigs to see The Pigeon Detectives, The Cribs and Arctic Monkeys – and of course we’d go to Leeds Festival. I don’t go out as much now I’m in my thirties and am
currently pregnant but we used to often end up down Call Lane or in Fibre. I’d go to places like Belgrave and Headrow House but I don’t think of myself as much of a hipster!
A City of Food
Some of my favourite places to eat in Leeds are Cut & Craft, The Whitehall, Man’s Market… and I cannot wait to try Things In Bread. At work we go out for lunch at Thai Aroy Dee every Tuesday – we call it Thai Tuesdays! I work at Tint on North Street and there are some great places there too – the crispy shredded beef from Wen’s, and I’m looking forward to a fish finger sandwich from Threes a Crowd – plus I really want to go to The Swine That Dines.
A new Leeds staple for me is Get Baked in Headingley – we’ve even got the Gogglebox crew onto Get Baked! As soon as I’ve given birth the first thing I want to eat is a big slice of Bruce from there or a donut from doh’hut. Another thing from Gogglebox that me and Izzi have become known for is eating spam and egg sandwiches! I started having these as a child in the market and one of the best places in Leeds that still does them is Country Crust on Scott Hall Road. Country Crust is mine and Izzi‘s favourite cafe to go for an English breakfast.
I really like going to the theatre and Leeds has got some amazing venues (Grand Theatre, City Varieties, Leeds Playhouse…). I recently went to see Kinky Boots at The Grand which is the second time I’ve seen it! And we’ve been to watch Benidorm, Mama Mia, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie… Me and Izzi love a musical!