Age Good Food Guide/Awards
Posted 29 August 2006 - 07:55 PM
Of course there were the disappointed ones, specially those who lost hats. Each year the reviewers start from scratch and all 500+ restaurants are reviewed at least once. In the case of the hats, I know some were visited several times.
Some interesting comments from the Good Food Guide editors John Lethlean and Necia Wilden:
The degustation has "spread like Paterson's curse across the aspirational restaurants set"
"Thank goodness for the increasing professionalism of sommeliers and the welcome trend towards savvy, informed and sometimes quite idiosyncratic shorters winelists (we've even recognised the genre with a new award this year)."
On other trends: "Softshell crab cooked a million ways and not always successfully); chorizo sausage with everything; black pudding for breakfast, lunch and dinner; and eel slithering out of its Japanese stronghold and onto the modern bistro chef's agenda. Charcuterie is the 'new' antipasto; smoked tomato is the new dun-dried (but better); and tarte tatin is made from just about every fruit and vegetable."
On desserts: "We think it's time the unholy trinity of pannacotta, semifreddo, and chocolate fondant moved over and made way for something just a whisker less predictabe."
We moved on to Longrain afterwards and I have to say their softshell crab was pretty good, ubiquitous or not!
The floggings will continue until morale improves
Posted 29 August 2006 - 09:15 PM
Comment from a non-Melburnian...
Flower Drum's and Circa's demotions were deserved, as was Bok Choy Brighton's. To be honest, I couldn't really see how BCB got a hat in the first place. The food is pretty run-of-the-mill, and short of the better than average wine list, I can't see what there is to really commend the place over any other eatery. Sure, that might be a function of the area it's located in and the population demographics, but the GFG is not a Michelin travel-oriented guide and shouldn't account for what else is nearby in awarding a hat.
I do not know what to make of the comments reported in The Age about "we don't charge enough...our best people are heading to Sydney, Singapore and Hong Kong."
I am acquainted with one of the Singaporean groups who nabbed a good Melbourne chef quite recently, and to say that people here aren't paid enough because Melbourne restaurants don't charge enough is not really a valid explanation. If restaurateurs keep complaining that margins are razor-thin, if prices were increased overnight, I don't think their first reaction would be to pay their staff more out of the new largesse.
And I also don't suppose there might be an element of supply and demand at play here as well? I mean, fancy thinking that they could raise their prices and their overall revenue would increase proportionately! And these comments were made in the context of upper range eateries such as Lake House. I don't know about fellow eGulleteers, but if prices were increased by any decent margin at pricey eateries, I would need to take a long hard look at how often I dined out and where I did so. Bear in mind that I don't have an expense account and feed my habit out of my wage packet.
Chefs Office, this might be more your line, I think...
Posted 29 August 2006 - 09:45 PM
Posted 29 August 2006 - 09:52 PM
I would be willing to bet anything you want that if prices went up, increased profit would go straight into the owners pocket. Very few Chefs would see any of it. Welcome to the world of restaurants.
Australia's problem in my view has more to do with the size of population and lack of serious diners.
Sydney and Melbourne only have a few "top" restaurants, only a select few guys can manage to squeeze a living from these establishments.
It's an incestuous little scene.
Most of these restaurants are pumping Thursday Friday and Saturday nights only.
In the real food centres of the world there are bigger selections of "top" restaurants and they are full every night of the week. We are still really a backwater.
When it comes to how much $$ chefs are paid, Australia is seen as a "lifestyle" choice (read: crap money) for the international guys.
It's impotant to keep in mind the ease of doing business in different countries as well. Australia is a lot harder to make money from a restaurant in compared to many other countries.
I would love to open a three hatter, bring some of the world's best talent over and blow away everyone, as many people would. For business reasons, even if I had the $$ to do so I wouldn't do it in this country.
It's hard graft.
To put it simply, chefs get a lot better money overseas than here in Australia..and raising selling prices here will not help the situation in the slightest.
If you are a chef and you want to stay in Australia but want more $$ then try your hand at opening your own restaurant, go into the supply chain or get your own tv show.
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Posted 29 August 2006 - 10:43 PM
The floggings will continue until morale improves
Posted 29 August 2006 - 11:34 PM
Alla Wolf-Tasker, proprietor of two-hat country winner Daylesford's Lake House urged those attending the awards: "Don't be afraid to put your prices up." But I guess there's that line in the sand where the customers say "enough!" How much is too much?
Pat, that was precisely my point. The reason why economists refer to "price elasticity" is because supply and demand is like an elastic band. If you pull it by raising your prices too much, it will either break and the whole structure goes to the dogs, or it will snap back and hit you in the face.
This is the factor that these "outspoken restaurateurs" have not yet faced up to.
This won't do any good for my dining credentials, but I am 100% with TCO. I am a marginal diner. I like to be serious about my food, but due to my pay being less than what I would like, I need to keep within a fair boundary, despite spending a fair proportion of my income on dining out.
I often do a little intrinsic cost-benefit analysis when I dine out; would I spend $200.00 on a tasting menu with wines? Yes, every once in a while. Would I spend $250 on the same menu if prices went up overnight? Not on your life. Because I'd know that is not the intrinsic worth of the meal that they were charging less for last night.
Where possible, I enjoy dining on weeknights; loss of my spending is not income that can be replaced easily because there is normally much excess seating capacity on the nights when I do dine out. So if this good restaurant raised their prices, I am priced out; i.e. NO REVENUE.
I used to think that prices were where they were because that was the level the market would accept. How naive of me to believe that when all along, the restaurateurs were simply doing their little bit of charity by feeding me at a price which wouldn't even recoup their costs
I would ask Wolf-Tasker and Van Haandel to bear in mind that in this market, you are faced with limited demand. If you want to rally the troops to combat and "raise your prices," go ahead. Just don't be surprised if the odd empty seat starts cropping up here and there. Or if you feel the lash of latex against your cheek sometime soon.
Edited for bad punctuation.
Edited by Julian Teoh, 29 August 2006 - 11:39 PM.
Posted 01 September 2006 - 12:02 AM
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