City Tastes & Tipples: Back to the North to do what he loves

KEEP IT REAL: Lee Wilkinson with Jean-Christophe Novelli.
KEEP IT REAL: Lee Wilkinson with Jean-Christophe Novelli.

Twenty years working as a chef was the background that prepared Lee Wilkinson to run his new venture in Wakefield.

Taking experience from working in top restaurants and under celebrity Chef Jean-Christophe Novelli in London all played a part in leading to the range of homemade food on offer at Deli Central on Northgate.

A packed out counter at Deli Central.

A packed out counter at Deli Central.

Originally from Bradford Lee’s credentials in West Yorkshire include Malmaison, Brasserie 44 and Pool Court in Leeds, as well as the old Villa Roma in Bradford.

He said: “Most of all I love being back up north, being home and all the homemade stuff we do here – all the Yorkshire cheeses, ham and quiches. Any Tom, Dick and Harry can order them but making it yourself shows you’ve put effort in and you care.”

And he’s not mistaken. You could be forgiven for thinking a tuna melt panini is a straightforward affair but the one on offer at Deli Central on another level.

Lee speaks with a disdain bordering on disgust when talking about cakes that are ordered in to cafes rather than being freshly prepared on site.

He said: “You don’t want scones that are perfectly risen and look like 50 pence pieces - they look fake, it’s like Playdough.

“You want them bursting out like rock cakes. I like the beauty of all that. They taste lovely as well.”

Despite the quality on offer there’s a warm atmosphere at Deli Central and Lee is on first name terms with the regulars.

He said: “It’s a local place for local people - I know what that sounds like - but it is. There’s a tonne of chains for people to go into but we do something else.”