Claire and Anthony Kitching: an interview with Friends of Ham

An interview with Claire and Anthony Kitching, owner and creators of the inspirational Leeds bar: Friends of Ham. Find out what they love on the food scene, their ethos for Friends of Ham and their recommendations on the best places to eat and shop for food!

What made you get into food?Friends ham interview kitching

We were disillusioned with our jobs in London and wanted to do something that interested in us, be our own bosses. We loved having friends round and entertaining them with great food and drink and following our travels around the world we caught the foodie bug

What is your philosophy for your food/business?

Great Quality Products

What is your ‘show-off’ dish?

Our French Board – Vacherin, Comte, Bigorre de Noir and Jesus du Pays Basque salami – it doesn’t get any better than that

When you are at home what is your staple dish for the family?

Kitch’s Fun Chilli – he makes amazing Chilli Con Carne, fresh guacamole, sour cream, cheese, lettuce and tortilla chips – we can’t get enough of this, in fact we might have to have it tonight

Do you have a guilty food pleasure when no-one else is around?

Beans on toast with grated cheddar and HP Sauce

What is your favourite place to go eat (if you’re not eating at yours!)?

Zucco an Italian in Meanwood

What chefs / places do you admire and why?

Barrafina – such a simple concept done very very well, I met the Executive Chef Nieves Barragan Mohacho which was a highlight for me – the they have a Michelin star for a restaurant / bar with so little covers in such a small space is incredible, I also admire a lot of other small plates restaurants in London where they maybe don’t have a massive kitchen but are pumping out delicious but simple fare with big flavours such as Duck SoupSager & Wilde amongst others

Do you have any other hidden foodie gems you think are worth people knowing about – shops, producers or otherwise?

Mast Brothers make the most delicious chocolate, Sager & Wilde’s wine knowledge is second to none, I know it’s quite touristy now but I do still love wandering around Borough Market and my biggest food heros are Neals Yard Dairy and Mons – what they don’t know about their specialist foods isn’t worth knowing. And Courtyard Dairy as well!!

Do you have a favourite cheese at the moment?   If so, why is it your favourite?

24 month aged Parmesan – I’ve just tried Ham & Cheese Co’s parmesan and it is absolutely incredible, that’s all I can say, we need to get it on our menu ASAP!

If you had to choose a drink to go with cheese what would it be? and why?

Beer – beer goes so well with cheese, in fact sometimes better than wine matches with some cheeses, such as a really hoppy IPA with cheddar or a thick rich imperial stout with a blue

Do you have favourite recipe involving cheese?

Not really a recipe but you really cannot beat Raclette after a day on the ski slopes

Where do you look for inspiration in your business?

Absolutely everywhere I go and in everything I do, I’m always thinking and looking at what others are doing, I’m particularly inspired by things that are happening in London and in May we’re heading to New York for a very big inspirational trip

What couldn’t you live without?

Cheese and ham!

What is your aim for the next year?

To open another Friends of Ham and to look at other opportunities that are similar but very very different, watch this space

Find Friends of Ham on Twitter at: and Facebook at:

Their pub can be found in New Station St in Leeds (200m from the station) and are soon to be opening in Ilkley.

More online at:

Find out more fascinating facts about cheese – simply sign up to The Courtyard Dairy monthly newsletter for regular  exciting offers and interesting info. from the cheese-world.  Sign up here.


Related Articles