Skip to main content
A Magazine for Sheffield

Chef's Counter brings great food to underused community spaces

Founder and chef Chris Hanson talks about his ambitions to connect people through food by running pop-up meals across Sheffield.

Chris Hanson and Andy Smith

Chef’s Counter founder Chris Hanson (L), with Andy Smith of Sheffield General Cemetery Trust.

Chef’s Counter is a new social enterprise focused on running food events across a variety of underused spaces in Sheffield.

The first event was a sold-out Persian-inspired feast at Sheffield General Cemetery's Samuel Worth Chapel on 20 July. Proceeds went to the cemetery to help them with their work looking after the grounds and their two Grade II* listed buildings.

Served on communal tables, it was a different type of meal out. There was a real buzz of excitement shared over vibrant platters including harissa glazed chicken, carrot, cumin and preserved lemon falafel, and date, pomegranate and dill rice pilaf. It was a great experience coming together in a unique community space to try Persian food – I will definitely be looking out for future events.

I spoke to founder and chef Chris Hanson, previously of Blend Kitchen, to get the low down on the events you can look forward to and what his ambitions are for the project.

You are doing something creative and exciting with Chef’s Counter. How did the idea come about?

The idea behind Chef’s Counter had been brewing for some time. After seven years at Blend Kitchen and a lot of reflection, I realised it was the time to do something new.

Food helps to connect people and bring together communities. I could see there was the opportunity to organise food events in some great community-run spaces, from old chapels to listed halls.

We all possess skills – mine are I can cook, know how to write a funding bid and don't mind taking a risk every once in a while.

Sharpen Harissa chicken

Harissa chicken wings and falafel served at Chef Counter's first public event at Samuel Worth Chapel last month.

Ros Ayres

We know many local groups are facing challenging times with rising running costs and reductions in funding. By running events we can help support charities and community groups.

There will be a rolling programme of events where we are working with different chefs and venues. We know the cost of living has hit everyone hard and many people aren’t going out as much. We would like to make these events affordable and give opportunities for them to meet new people, connect over food and at the same time we will be helping to support local organisations.

Providing employment opportunities was central to the work you did at Blend. What are your plans for Chef’s Counter?

We are committed to helping to create jobs for those furthest from the jobs market by offering them paid employment at Chef’s Counter.

I know from my experience at Blend – where we provided opportunities for employment to people who have been marginalised by lack of resources and opportunities – that not every employer will make these investments or make adjustments in the workplace.

We want to offer work experience and stepping stones of employment where people can learn skills, regardless of whether they have mental health conditions or haven’t been in paid work before. It is about finding the best fit for the individual and work they can flourish in.

The next event in September has already sold out. What else can people look out for?

The Chef’s Counter team have already established a number of partnerships with local charities, with events planned from later in the year. These include working with the iconic St Mary’s community and conference centre on Bramall Lane, which offers a range of community services and accommodates groups and conferences in its impressive spaces.

Our September event at the Samuel Worth Chapel is sold out, but we will be releasing details of our Antiguan feast in October with the incredibly talented Natasha Farrell.

More Food

More Food