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Tim Hayward

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Everything posted by Tim Hayward

  1. Amazing isn't it? It's almost like there's some kind of viral campaign. Keep wishing, Zotty. You might get a pony for Christmas
  2. I hadn't really thought of the mag as part of that stable. I'm sure they have the same issues though. I'm sure the sports mag hires vapid celebrity hacks to write 15 pages of expensively photographed "Me and my favourite team - a Soap Star Special". I'm sure there's a section in the music mag where we get to see what's in Andy McNab's iPod I'm sure the women's mag doesn't actually aim itself at 'serious' women as they expect them to be catered for online.
  3. Actually, now we've descended to the entirely infantile I'm thinking of going the whole way. How about 'Celebrity Chef Trading Cards'. We could stand in little knots in the corners of the playground. "My Heston Blumenthal could have your Gordon Ramsay any day. Look, he does kickboxing and Ramsay only does angry punchups" "Yeah, but my Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall beats him on silly ingredients plus he's got the second most stupid hair after Gary Rhodes and HB is just a baldy" It's a ridiculous idea, of course, (though, just to be clear, my Fergus Henderson, beats HB on stupid glasses and HFW on stupid ingredients).... maybe we should start a 'my chef's better than yours' thread somewhere.
  4. I wouldn't like to be in John Crace's shoes at the moment: ← D'you, know, Zotty, until you posted this I hadn't realized what a phenomenally sexy brute Mr Blumenthal really is. The twinkling eyes, the copper tan, the brooding menace, the feeling that, at any moment he could whip you over a vaulting horse and have his way with you, the polished head, like a mighty, brain packed bell-end. I'm quite flustered You've entirely changed my opinion of both Heston and you.
  5. Oh what a dream. I'd like to lead with something intelligent, well written and informative. John Thorne, Margaret Visser, HFW, Nicola Humble, Alan Davidson, Jim Harrison, Sue Shephard, Alan Richman, Mark Kurlansky and Ben Rogers would all get a go. There have to be 12 intelligent books written about food every year - that means there are at least 12 people to commission to write an interesting article. If I was allowed to bring people back from the dead I'd also commission, La David, Lucius Beebe, MFK and Alice Thomas Ellis. I'd have a nice 1000 word Stiengartenesque piece on an ingredient or technique, I'd get Sophie Grigson out of semi-retirement for some seasonal recipes, there would, of course, be a bakery column. Wine - I'm not sure about. I'd have Marina run the restaurant reviews, from the office, with a rod of iron, with a regularly re-iterated star system and a team of anonymous reviewers to actually go out and sit in restaurants. Anthony Bourdain gets a column on TV chefs. I'd serialise a cookery course of the quality of Julia Child's 'Mastering the art...' There would be a cartoon strip of cookery tips by Len Deighton. There would be forensically photographed pages on techniques, a regular few pages for Robert Freson to do something nice, some truly lubricious shots of finished dishes and a centre spread of Nigella Lawson, entirely naked, every week. We'd also hire a different comedy writer for every edition to make sure we were actually able to have a laugh about food. We wouldn't run articles that were thinly disguised puffs for shows, books, restaurants or individuals I'd have it perfect bound, on heavy paper, at convenient size for reading on the tube or the loo. It would NOT include any celebrities, unless they could cook. And although Gordon 'fucking' Ramsay qualifies under that stricture, I'd have a special rule that ensured that he, his restaurants and members of his family were permanently excluded. I know that's unfair but, fuck it, I'm king. It wouldn't actually have a cover price but you could obtain a copy on application and completion of a short written test.
  6. There is, of course, PPC. But between editions I'm still starved.
  7. Perceptive and direct as always Jon. Plus ca change eh? So, Jay.... ...does this still pertain?
  8. Granted. But where will quality papers go if 'niche high end' stuff goes on-line? Surely it's almost the definition of a broadsheet (particularly, the larger and more leisurely Sunday edition) that it takes the time to analyse specialist areas. And, as nobody gets paid for it online, will we come to regard you and your colleagues as 'the last generation of professionals? This would be a pity. Online communities are commonly characterised as a bunch of dangerously opinionated amateurs, whaffling and ranting with no 'professional' rigour... if we're the future of the 'High-end', Christ help us. 'Rigour' takes time, effort, will and a paycheque. Besides which, if online is the future for food, are we seriously saying we've seen the last Elizabeth David? Is the next Jane Grigson running a blog off a superannuated 386 in her bedroom? Should I be looking out for a poster like 'St33ngarten'? None of those people could have survived to write about food without someone paying enough for them to live.
  9. Undeniably true. So I suppose what I'm saying is that it's a rotten shame the UK doesn't deserve a publication that's the foodie equivalent of the New Statesman - small circulation special interest Maybe there aren't enough of us to make it worthwhile. But, in the meantime, the Spectator and Private Eye seem to have dropped their food columns altogether and increasingly, I can't find anything to read.
  10. Both were commissioned solely for our magazine by two of the Observer's key writers. They can only look like they've been published elsewhere if they carry a copyright mark from elsewhere. We also don't commission anything for syndication purposes, because it's imporsisble to do so. What I think you're really saying is 'There were two pieces in the mag that appealed to me but if I say that it would undermine my whinge about the rest of the mag.' ← I stand, of course, corrected - though, to be fair, I didn't say that either of the pieces actually appealed to me. They didn't. But my point stands. Though I can see that the Observer deserves a huge pat on the back for commissioning two food pieces for a 100 pg monthly food section, if there's budget to be spent on producing such a magazine it seems fairly lamentable to be spending it sending photographers to LA to shoot comedians in restaurants. It also seems fairly lamentable that the people who are commissioning intelligent articles about food - take Gourmet magazine as an example - are outside the UK.
  11. But sometimes he can be priceless In yesterday's Observer supplement (not OFM), under the headline 'Tickled pink' the following sub, Purple prose, even for Nige, but curtains? And, more particularly, beef ones?
  12. I used to love OFM. I was genuinely thrilled when my favourite Sunday paper decided to do a special supplement about something that I care about. In the beginning they deserved the 'Newspaper supplement of the year' accolade they print on the banner. I've been finding it increasingly unreadable. Here's why... Nigel Slater's Meaty Supper 4 pages recipes The best stress-free Christmas recipes 15 pages recipes The chef test (best and worst Xmas food) 4 pages product review I'll have what he's having (comedy celebrities plug restaurants) 11 pages celebrity So why are pineapples leaving a bitter taste 6 pages food feature What's in my basket? 2 pages celebrity How Alex James became a very big cheese in the country 6 pages celebrity Battery chickens, patio heaters etc - (John Humphrys opines on all things green accompanied by 'Hello' style shots) 4 pages celebrity The truffle is out there 5 pages food feature Poppadums and pomegranates 6 pages food feature/recipes Last word (Indira Sen writes about visiting her Mum) 1 page celebrity That's 40 pages of food and 19 of celebrity. Of these, it's worth noting that both the pineapple and the truffle pieces - the only ones that really qualify as readable and intelligent features about food, look like they've either been published elsewhere or are written with syndication in mind. The stress-free recipes chunk is an inutterably uninspired collection of rehashed recipes none of which look tested enough to risk or inspiring enough to bother with. Poppadums and pomegranates is a puff for Reza Mahammad's book with some recipes lifted from it. Both Humphrys and Sen are, to be fair, writing about food they clearly wouldn't be in OFM if they weren't already famous for something else. I understand the dynamics of newspaper sales. I understand that, if they can popularise a subject to appeal to a more general audience they can increase sales. I understand that, these days, that means 'celebrity'. The presence of mass market food supplements and magazines means that general newspapers no longer feel the need to run food columns. Good food writing is being further marginalised every month. But I'm genuinely at a loss. What the hell am I supposed to read?
  13. Are you saying that he's not the best then? Or are you saying that his PR is the best but his food isn't, or what? I don't understand why you're so against PR anyway, surely the mass of attention that Heston gets is only because he's proportionally so much better than anyone else. and not because of press releases etc? ← I think it's debatable.
  14. c) neither. ← In that case, let's address your assertion that he's 'the best' (in the world or outside of London) and your characterisation of those involved in this discussion as... .I'm an amateur when it comes to food and cooking, as are many of the posters on this board. But there are are professional cooks, academics, foodwriters, critics and even people who qualify as 'full-time consumers' of top level restaurants, all involved in debates like this. I'll leave them to 'decloak' if they feel your comment needs a response. Actually, my 'professional' background is TV, PR and Marketing - 'spin' if you like. I wouldn't dream of commenting on HB's food beyond my capacity as an informed punter, but I do think I can add something when talking about how he presents himself publicly, his business model and the actions of his PR and TV production companies. John W's sage comment upthread that ... ...is sadly, bang on the button. You and I would probably agree that it's sad that a Spin Doctor's comments are as relevant to a chef's career as a food expert - it doesn't make it any less true. Now, about this 'best' business. You can happily state that Michael Schumacher is the 'best' formula 1 driver. You can see the races he's won, you can compare the number of races he's won over the years to other drivers and, though experts may argue about elements of his performance, you could be reasonably sure of getting agreement. If you say that Paul Gascoine is the best footballer... scratch that, I know nothing about football... that Michaelangelo is the best painter, you're entirely expressing a matter of opinion. If Michaelangelo is the most popularly enjoyed painter, it's not because I say so, or you say so - it's because the majority of amateurs have said so over time. When you have used the expression 'Best in the World' in your posts, you are expressing someone's opinion - some body, jury, or more probably some restaurant magazine or rating organisation. If you averred, on a public board, that somebody else had said that Michaelangelo was the best (sic) in the world it would be logical for other amateurs to discuss who had said this, why they had said this, what their motives were and whether we agreed. Which, we're doing. As it is, it's not art, it not even something as evanescent as professional football, it's arguable that it's even about food... what we're mainly talking about is the restaurant business, celebrity and hype. If anyone is prepared to have an informed public debate about that, they deserve a fucking knighthood - and if there is no objective best in art, there sure as Hell isn't in hash slinging.
  15. I'm profoundly suspicious of any celebrity's childhood as retold by a breathless biographer or ghost. Ordinary upbringings don't make good copy and any truth is difficult to establish. Call me a cynic but I really don't buy 'Gordo the Glasgow Hardman' and I'm even suspicious of MPW's 'I grew up in Leeds but it's amazing how much it sounds like the flashback sequences of Once Upon a Time in America', but I'm trying to decide, from your hagiographic retelling of Heston's press releases whether you are ... a) working for him or b) stalking him Please, in a spirit of disclosure, let us know either way.
  16. Do you know, I don't think I have an intelligent answer to this But here's a summing up of why the whole thing is bugging me.... 1. I don't know if he is comparable to Veyrat or Adria 2. If he isn't getting the same audience, then why? Something to do with the quality of his food, the weird location or a general global inability to accept that innovation could come out of the UK? 3. The UK is uniquely sleb obsessed. HB has the choice of getting a lot richer, a lot faster than Adria or Veyrat by being a kind of performing MG muppet or sticking to his principles and staying an out of town chef proprietor, albeit with three stars, who may well go down in flames when MG inevitably hits the skids. Under those circumstances, a strategy based around "If it ain't broke, don't fix it - at least until we've leveraged the publicity from the show/book" would make the soundest business sense. Maybe he'll use the proceeds to change the menu. 4. The question of the Michelin stars is worrying. There's a strong argument that Michelin, finding themselves increasingly out of fashion and irrelevant to modern diners, jumped on MG with both feet to prove that it could still have some commercial point. The fact that MG is looking increasingly like it might be a bit of an embarrassment must be a worry to everyone. The weird thing is, I genuinely can't tell if he deserves the stars or not. People whose opinions I respect are split about 50/50, which unfortunately, further undermines the point of Michelin. I'd find the whole argument a lot less confusing if it weren't for the totally random factor of the stars. 5. Ramsay is surfing the edge of disbelief with his bipolar chef/media personality existence. Soon, people who care about food will no longer believe he can do both things at once and he'll have to continue getting richer, being a cartoon chef and opening more and more branded franchises for the rich and stupid. There are worse ways to go, I suppose, but it would be a shame to see HB go that way. 6. He seems to a be clever, enthusiastic chef, who might be brilliant, who might even make good TV, but unless his business plan is to fill his pension fund ASAP then open an entirely different kind of restaurant and never darken our screens again, he could well cark spectacularly. We can feel, as reasonably well-read foodies, how MG is teetering on the edge of becoming the same kind of laughable self-parody as Nouvelle Cuisine. The fact that HB has chosen just this moment to become it's public figurehead - in spite of his protestations - is, IMHO, a career limiting move.
  17. Ooops. Engage brain. Same applies though.
  18. If you mean Monkey Island then I'd say that its more traditional menu means that it can guarantee bums on seats from the wealthy of Berkshire and its hotel means that the dirty weekend (sorry, Mr & Mrs Jones/Hip Hotel/City Break) brigade can make an impressive destination of it. With neither an accessible menu nor a hotel, Blumenthal has to draw from a wider and more complicated universe of potential customers. I still maintain that the best way to do that is to keep the favourites on the menu as long as possible.
  19. It's a fair point but there's very little commercial pressure on him to change. 'Destination' restaurants are a funny phenomenon in the UK. Sure, most foodies will make the trip at least once but, outside of a big city he has the problem that he's not going to attract the expense account crowd. For punters it's great news that they're in no danger of being seated next to a six top of dead-eyed corporate wampyrs, chucking breadrolls and nipping off to the loo for a livener. To the British restaurateur it means a different business model. I would argue that, though his cooking may be innovative and his personal appeal wide, a restaurant somewhere as God forsaken as Bray has to run on a theme park model - people will come from all over, once - and on that basis, he needs the offering to stay consistent until the last remaining quid has been extracted from the last culinary tourist. He really can't afford to mess with that. Imagine if, by the time the West Daventry Food and Wine Society finally got their booking, his famous 'whelk profiterol with emulsion paint' had been removed from the menu. There would be ructions. And if the foodie tourists don't pack him out every night, there's no one else to fill the seats. I remember Jammy Olive complaining that 15 was full of idiots from out of town who wanted him to sign their books, do a cheeky little cockney dance, flirt with their old gran and then burn them a steak. I reckon Heston is doomed to a more foodily literate version of the same.
  20. Don't know if will help your decision in any way, but I just saw Jude Law, Johnny Miller and Rhys Ifans buying milk in my corner shop
  21. I reckon that segment's shot bluescreen too. And, judging by his ludicrous tan, at an entirely different time to the rest of the programme.
  22. Dammit, Man. I knew we'd met somewhere before....
  23. This is probably the most intelligent appraisal of the London property scene I've read in years I wouldn't knock Clerkenwell though. If I had to point to where the UK food scene was hottest at the moment it would be around there. Certainly, if you include the Exmouth Market axis (Moro, Ambassador, Eagle, Quality Chop and stretching to Konstam) and maybe loop in some of the stuff happening over towards Spitalfields (St John F+W and a couple of others that escape me) and Hoxton (The Bacchus) you have most of the stuff worth looking at in London. Almost anything that opens in the West End is so heavily backed by large scale investors that there's no scope for adventure, no room for experiment. It's just too expensive a league to play in. I may be biased (I used to live in Finsbury) but all the places mentioned above are independent, proprietor-run operations, with not a Sleb chef to be seen. I can't think of anywhere else where so many interesting things are being done in pleasant, friendly environments at prices that real people can afford. Go east, young lady, go East.
  24. If you spill liquid nitrogen on your hand the heat from your hand makes it evaporate quickly and as it's liquid it spreads over a wide surface area - a bit like spitting on the base of a hot iron. The evaporating nitrogen protects your skin, the result is you don't get burned if it splashes on you. In a reverse way if you have wet hands you can, quickly, dip your hand into molten iron - the water vapor stops your hand from burning With dry ice if this lands on your skin, it can freeze and stick because it's weight as a solid lump means the pressure of resulting evaporation can't make a barrier, as a result is a lump of dry ice lands on you this can result in nasty burns. Heston was taking sensible precautions. However dry ice can be obtained for home and can be stored for a while (so can liquid nitrogen but the storage tanks will cost you - so it's not practical for home use) I assume that's why Heston took the dry ice route. ← Thanks for putting me straight on that. Please don't get me wrong. I have no problem with anything HB is doing. My beef is with the programme makers. If your script makes a point of the safety procedures at -80, 30 seconds after not showing any at -200 it's sloppy not to make clear what's going on. So far, I'm loving every nerdy bit of Heston, I just can't believe how the programme makers have hacked him about. In the movie world, if a movie is unutterably crap, it goes 'straight to video' appearing on the shelves at Blockbuster without ever getting cinematic release. The release of the HB DVD with a newspaper prior to the release of the show is the only time I've ever seen that happen with a TV programme. What on earth could possess a company to release unbroadcast footage? (particularly a BBC product where they're usually great at wringing every last ounce of usage out of a property in whatever medium). Coupled with the mysteriously last-minute scheduling of the show, I still reckon this indicates that the production company ended up with a huge volume of what the BBC considered unuseable material at the end of shooting and had to substantially recut. This programme is the first to show cooking... you know, the thing where a bloke actually makes food on screen... for ages. It appeals to me as a food lover and I enjoy watching it. But whichever producer came up with the notion that it would only sell to the masses if Heston dealt with everyday recipes and adapted them for home use, was a knob-end of heroic stature. The programme ties itself in knots trying to be something it isn't. Between the DVD and some of the best parts of the programme is hidden a terrific series in which Heston Blumenthal is allowed to do what he does best. I lament the fact the BBC didn't feel able to make that series. I lament the fact that they had to cut it to appeal to morons. It's good to see that eGers are digging out the best nuggets but it's a crying shame we have to.
  25. I wasn't aware we had a posh side We're certainly a bit stuffed for restaurants. Still, between Sardo Canale, the revitalised Odettes, our splendid new Farmers market and Melrose and Morgan, I suppose we do OK. Of course, it's not as good as the West End. We have to walk a whole fifteen minutes through Regent's Park for that
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