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Acclaimed Chef Sandy Jarvis on Opening Bavette in Leeds

bavette bistro

Introduction to Bavette Bistro

Bavette has just opened in Leeds—a brand new neighbourhood bistro. This is the first venture from ex-Culpeper Group MD, head chef Sandy Jarvis, his husband, restaurant manager, and sommelier Clément Cousin, formerly of Brawn and The Buxton. A true collaboration between front-of-house and kitchen, Bavette is born out of the passionate and experienced co-founders’ desire to share their love of restaurants. The result is a relaxed, convivial bistro where food and wine are of equal measure. Sandy invites Absolutely Yorkshire to tell us more.

sandy and clement

Sandy Jarvis’ Culinary Journey

Early Career

Before working at the Culpeper Group, Sandy’s culinary journey took him to notable establishments. After university, he moved to London to attend Leith’s School of Food & Wine to train as a chef. His first job was with Henry Harris at Racine in Knightsbridge. While there, he met Pascal Wiedemann, whose passion for cooking was infectious. After a brief stint elsewhere, Sandy joined Terroirs, where Pascal was now working. He started as a chef de partie but quickly advanced to head chef.

“Working for Pascal and Ed Wilson at Terroirs was incredible. I learned so much from both of them; not just on cooking, but on the front of house and how to run a successful restaurant generally.”

bavette hero 1

Culpeper Group Experience

Sandy fondly remembers his time at the Culpeper Group. A couple of months into their refurb of the old Princess Alice pub, he met co-founders Nico Treguer and Gareth Roberts. He was looking for a new, exciting venture and was delighted to join. From one pub, the group grew to four pubs/restaurants/hotels, with Sandy moving up to managing director.

“Growing from one pub to a group of four was incredible. I left on the best of terms with everyone. I’m proud of all we achieved together, particularly around sustainability and team welfare.”

The Making of Bavette

Inspiration and Planning

The idea for Bavette took root during lockdown. Bavette was the name of the ‘bistro’ that Sandy and Clément pretended to eat at every day at home to ease the boredom.

“We started discussing our dream place, and one day in summer 2022, we decided it was the right time to leave our roles and start something new.”

bavette hero 2

Choosing Leeds

Sandy, originally from Leeds, suggested Yorkshire for their new venture. Upon further thought, they felt a Leeds suburb would be a great fit.

“Leeds is big enough for a strong customer base but not so big that you struggle to get out to the countryside. It has a solid community that supports independent restaurants.”

Opening and Operating Bavette

Initial Challenges

Getting to the opening night had its challenges, from finding the site to sorting the loans. Although the building works were quick, they did throw up a problem or two.

“I’ve done openings as head chef, operations director, and managing director, but not all three together. It was a fair amount to take on, even with two people.”

The Dining Experience

From day one, Bavette aimed to offer a warm, inviting, and hospitable neighbourhood bistro—like a Parisian bistro.

“Somewhere you want to come for a birthday, but also if you can’t be bothered to cook tonight.”

bavette hero 3

Menu Approach

Sandy’s love for classic French cooking is reflected in the menu. He focuses on sourcing ingredients that are flavourful and sustainable. The goal is to offer dishes that are the best version of something you’ve had.

“Our goal is for everything to be the best version of something you’ve had. The one you talk about with a friend and remember ours.”

Key Ingredients and Suppliers

Wine List

The wine list is a crucial part of the Bavette experience. Clément, who grew up on a vineyard, has curated a list that includes his family’s wines.

“We’re both very passionate about natural wine but also very keen for people not to feel excluded.”

Future Aspirations

Sandy and Clément have no big plans to open more restaurants. They want Bavette to settle into the community and be enjoyed by people.

“Our drive is to keep pushing Bavette to get better and better, which is really exciting to us.”

For more information, visit Bavette Bistro.

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