By day he’s a business analyst – but after landing a contract in his home city of Wolverhampton, George Leonowicz has turned food critic too, writes Adam Thompson.
He’s taken on the challenge of eating lunch in every establishment in the city centre, and is rating each place on a fascinating new blog.
George says his dinner time experiences in the city something he says has ‘re-kindled his love for Wolverhampton and its people’.
The 54-year-old business analyst hasn’t worked in the city for more than 20 years and says when he won the contract with the council he knew he had to soak up his home town before his work ends in March.
George’s Wolverhampton Lunchtime Mission blog had been due to sample 60 locations inside the ring road perimeter but such was its success it was extended beyond that. George, from Pendeford, along with his colleague Alistair Bush, is expected to try more than 80 eateries before he continues work elsewhere next month.
He said: “Because of the work I do I have to work away from home so much and when I do it is very rare we are in a city centre it usually is a business park away from anywhere good to eat. This is a short term contract so I wanted to sample as much of the city as I could while I was here and if anything it has re-kindled my love for the place.
"It’s made me realise just what a friendly and sociable city Wolverhampton is. I’ve always loved food and the feedback I’ve had from people about my blog has been positive.
"I wanted to do this to champion Wolverhampton. It’s a city which may not be the most glamorous but the characters here make it the place I love and that is why the ambiance of a place is so important when I’m giving it a mark.”
If you think George is just sampling cafés and pub grub you’d be wrong. It’s not all battered chips and balti pies as food at the city’s art gallery, supermarkets and department stores have all had the rule run over them in his mouth watering quest.
According to the mission statement on his blog he intends to have a sit down meal in as many eating establishments as possible in 45 working days.
Alistair, who is originally from Worcester, and also contributes to George’s blog said the tour has adhered him to the people of Wolverhampton. He added: “If I’m honest Wolverhampton hasn’t got the best reputation outside the city but this has opened my eyes to it. I’ve found the people in the places we have eaten to be very friendly.”
George says he marks locations on the ambiance, the food, the beer (where sold) and the service. He posts pictures of the grub online as well as a critique of his experience. His Facebook group has exceeded more than 50 likes and is growing.
He’s not shy for stinging criticism either. One blog entry reads: “What a grave mistake. The hot food looked dry and overcooked, the pre-prepared sarnies were a much better option.”
It was safe to say George wouldn’t be eating there again.
He said: “Every place I go into starts off with a 10 and then each time something isn’t good then it has a mark knocked off. I’ve given scores as low as four but I awarded 10 to one place because it was flawless. They brought me out a home-made burger with chilli and chips – it really was a sight to behold. It’s not just if the food is good – it’s the atmosphere of the place and how you are treated by staff. It’s a great way to sample Wolverhampton.
“In the last four years the standard of food has gone up everywhere and the variety of food available I can’t tell you how many steaks I have sent back but now I don’t encounter any problems.”
But any chance that George will give up the day job to become a critic was soon quashed, he explained: “This is a one off. Unfortunately the jobs I get mean I’m working next to a Waitrose like I was doing in Cardiff. We spend months on end getting food from there so I can’t imagine anyone would want to read about that every day.”