The Friday Countdown

A look at the announcements, our favourite events, things we have learned and general stuff we like in the past week. Let us know what we missed!

4. Making an Exhibition of Ourselves

We love nothing more than going around and shouting about our conference and events services, especially at a major exhibition – it is much more effective than doing so at bus stops and in the bathroom.

Which is why we had a great time on Tuesday meeting the good people at the Conference & Hospitality Show 2017 (CHS) at the First Direct Arena. A massive thank you to everyone who came to visit us and we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

We even came away from the after party with a nomination for Best Sustainable Venue at the CHS Awards! The final takes place on 11th May and we are up against some excellent venues, so best of luck to all!

Emma, our Conference Sales Executive, said:

“Lisa and I had a great day at the Conference and Hospitality Show at the First Direct Arena on Tuesday. We met lots of lovely event bookers throughout the day and it was really great to catch up with our friends at Weetwood Hall, The Park Plaza and Conference Leeds too. A big thank you to Horizon who let me have one of their handy fold away shopping bags! It was also fantastic to hear that we are a finalist in the CHS Awards for the best Sustainable Venue and we are now looking forward to the awards ceremony at the Royal Armouries in May!”

Next week we are at the Suppliers Easter Fair 2017, where you can come and see us and a whole host of University services and suppliers. We have a hamper with some fantastic Leeds based goodies to give away, along with an egg-citing special prize. Great Food at Leeds will also be there and serving up a delicious free lunch, so don’t miss out!

3. 28 Reasons Not to Visit Leeds

We are always trying to get people to come and visit Leeds, because we know it is one of the best places in the UK, and home to the Times University of the Year.

But what we should have been doing is trying to send people away, because it is that good we don’t want to share it with anyone! Which is why we love this Buzzfeed article, which shows off 28 delights of the city and has three entries for the University of Leeds. It includes the brutalist architecture of the Roger Stevens Building, which might look like a 70’s futurist take on the Ministry of Truth on the outside, but is home to some of the most innovative lecture theatres on campus. Also in there is our new #VenueOfTheMonth, the Parkinson Building, the campanile of which is an iconic feature of the Leeds skyline. You can find out more about the history of the building further down this list and on the Campus Developments website.

There are 25 more reasons not to come to Leeds, so feel free to have a look but please don’t bother coming…

2. Masterchef is Back!

We can’t get enough of watching Greg and John taking lingering mouthfuls as a contestant looks on pensively, especially when they mistake the Bomba rice for the Arborio variety in a Risotto.

The general incompetence at the early stage makes us a little bit more comfortable with our pan-clanging in the kitchen. However, we are always trying to improve our gastronomic skills so we had a chat with our Masterchef Marc Mottershead, the Head Chef at University House, who gave us the awesome recipe below. You can also check out his video on how to make a mushroom look like a million dollars here.

While we are speaking of culinary competition, chefs Simon and Lisa from Great Food at Leeds will be competing in the chefs’ challenge at The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) Competition on 11th April. They will be cooking a three-course meal from a pre-determined list of ingredients against 22 other university teams, so keep an eye on the Great Food at Leeds Twitter feed for the latest updates.

Anyway, on to the good stuff…

Super Gooey Chocolate Brownie

Everybody claims to have the perfect Brownie recipe; well we have the best of the best. This is perfect for birthday parties or as a dessert for a dinner party with plenty of leftovers! However, they are best kept for a lazy weekend with nothing to do but make coffee and watch box sets. Serves 12 greedy people with healthy appetites and a sweet tooth.

Cooking time: 50 mins


  • 350g Caster Sugar
  • 6 Eggs
  • 350g melted Butter
  • 125g best Cocoa Powder, sieved
  • 125g sieved Flour
  • 350g dark Fairtrade Chocolate
  • 100g chopped Hazelnuts (or any nut that tickles your fancy)
  • 100g White Chocolate, broken into chunks


  1. Crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk. Gradually add the caster sugar and whisk until combined. Then add the melted butter and again whisk until combined.
  2. Continuing to whisk the mixture, steadily add the flour and cocoa. Ensure that you do not add too much at once or the mixture will become lumpy.
  3. Melt the dark chocolate, either in a bowl over a pan of boiling water or in the microwave (check regularly if using the microwave as you do not want the chocolate to burn). Stir this into the mixture.
  4. Add the nuts and white chocolate and stir through for an even distribution. Transfer to a large baking tray (around 40x25x4cm) or several smaller trays which have been lined with greaseproof paper, smoothing the mixture into the corners of the tray with a spatula.
  5. Cook at gas mark 5 (180-190 Celsius) for 30 minutes. Pull the shelf out a bit and gently shake the tray. If the brownie wobbles in the middle, it’s not quite done, so slide it back in. You want the centre to bee moist and gooey but not wet, so there will be a glossy crust”. If it is not fully cooked allow up to 10 more minutes, checking after 5.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tray. Slice while still in the tray, remove and serve with a dollop of clotted cream or ice cream. Delicious!

Chef’s top tip: If you want to make some to hide away for a special occasion, it’s useful to know that they’ll keep in an airtight container for a good two weeks and in the freezer for up to a month.

1. #VenueOfTheMonth

This month we are looking at possibly our favourite venue on the University of Leeds campus: the Parkinson Building.

The bell tower, or campanile if you want to go with the Italian term, which stands at 57 metres tall is a prominent feature of the Leeds skyline and is the basis of the University logo. But it wasn’t always so tall…

Named after Frank Parkinson, a former student at the University and major benefactor of the University who oversaw many new building projects at the University from 1936 onwards, and designed by Thomas Arthur Lodge and Tomas Geoffry Lucas, construction of the building started in 1938. However, due to the outbreak of the First World War, when it was used as a Ministry of Food storeroom, the campanile was not finished until 1951, when the building was first opened to the public by the then Chancellor of the University of Leeds, HRH the Princess Royal.

The bells, which play the “Leeds quarter” every 15 minutes, first rang at noon on 14th May 1953 and have been a ubiquitous aural feature of the University ever since.

Nowadays the Parkinson Building plays host to the Stanley and Audrey Burton Art Gallery, which is free to enter for the general public and displays an extensive array of paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, and photographs, along with temporary exhibitions. It is also the home of the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery, where you can discover the remarkable and unique items, including a rare copy of the first folio containing the plays of William Shakespeare.

However, the real reason it is our #VenueOfTheMonth is because it is perfect for drinks receptions, exhibitions, book fairs, poster sessions, art displays, catering for large events: pretty much anything you can think of!

Just so you know, we do not have any association with any of the news outlets, film and podcast recommendations. The views expressed in these do not represent the views of the University of Leeds.