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Tim Hayward

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Everything posted by Tim Hayward

  1. Just heard an interview with the proprietor on GLR. Apparently the kitchen has been terminally damaged by the burst water main in Tooley St. There was also some old toot about the mayoral election but I wasn't listening to that bit.
  2. Speak for yourself, Mate. I reckon there's a wide-open market opportunity for 'The Al Murray of Food Writing'.
  3. Largely un-deconstructed, I grant you... but don't you find them all a bit, you know, foreign? If nothing else, the winner's acceptance speech has confirmed my resolution to buy British. "Cry God! For Heston, England and St John!"
  4. that was one of the first thoughts when i read the list - as much as i adore st. john, it is ludicrous to see it at 16. ← With respect, I disagree. It was my first time at the awards and the thing that really stuck out for me came from the (seemingly interminable) presentation. We sat through descriptions of each winner, usually including a description and a slide of some signature dishes. The first thing you need to do is adopt some kind of mental filter that removes terms like 'fresh, local and seasonal' or you'd frankly just have to open your veins. The second thing you notice is the almost total dominance of deconstructed cooking. I have a theory that deconstructed cooking really fits symbiotically with the booming 'fine dining' business. Back in the day, the only thing a chef could do to alter a great ingredient was to dismantle it by cutting or stewing or to apply sauces to it. Deconstruction means that flavours are routinely extracted, given new form and recombined... something that gives name chefs and famous restaurants so much more scope to make the innovative, attention grabbing combinations that build brands. You can't make a global name in 'fine dining' just by knocking out a better chicken albufera than the next guy. What the awards made me think was that we are pretty much accepting that deconstructed cooking is what it's all about now - not that it's a movement or an idea but that it's the whole bloody shooting match. From now on... 'Top Restaurant'=deconstructed food. Which, I guess, is more than part of the reason, to go back to the original thread, that the awards now look to be annually carved up between Heston and the whole of Spain. I'm bloody glad St John was in there. It's my favourite restaurant anywhere in the world. It's long been well known that chefs love it* - and, after all they made up much of the panel. If we're going to accept that the whole future of restaurant dining is about deconstruction, well terrific. We should all be pleased with the results and start learning Spanish so we can understand the speeches. If, as I do, you believe there's got to be more to it than the last 'movement' then I'd have to ask one question.... If, for the sake of argument, the future of restaurants was not solely deconstructed cuisine, then what would the world's top restaurants look like? For me the answer is St John. ETA: Don't get me wrong. My second favourite restaurant in the world is the FD. It's not like I have it in for the deconstructors but, IMHOP, getting Fergus in at 16 wasn't even vaguely enough to balance out. (*Last year, the winners went to St John after the awards - this year it was GQS. Poor bastards. After all that mucked-about-with crap they probably needed a decent meal )
  5. There are only two reasons a chef might shave his head... MPW and MPB.
  6. I went last year and I've got to admit I found it totally bizarre. I have to imagine that chefs' 'signature' dishes are part of the integrated experience of being in their restaurants. I ate one or two pleasant enough things - nothing that would blow anyone away - but I could say exactly the same thing about the 'Innocent Garden Fete' in the same location. There are plenty of great, innovative outdoor caterers all over the country, doing far more appropriate things for eating at outdoor, tented tradeshows. I honestly can't see where it 'fits' for foodies. 'Taste of London' is to good food what The Ideal Home Show is to interior design. If food has become a 'lifestyle' statement then ToL is there for that target audience.
  7. Gordo's remaining credibility has left the building.
  8. I apologise. Yours was a health decision and totally laudable. The Chefs are a different thing - there's something truly creepy about the levels of self-control in middle-aged male chefs, martial artists and marathon runners. To be strictly accurate I only peaked at 20st 8lbs and entirely lacked the self-control to do anything about it. In the end a combination of protracted marital collapse and not entirely unrelated chemical abuse caused the weight to drop off. Then I turned 38 and had the therapy. I've been stable at 15st 8lbs for a few years now, which I probably don't deserve because I didn't work at it. I wouldn't recommend the 'Charlie Plan' diet to anyone, but I do take my hat of to anyone with the guts to make the life change necessary for lasting weight loss.
  9. Naah mate. I'm happy, cheery and well balanced. You should see the picture in my attic though....
  10. You don't think it's about age. That's because you're wasting money at the gym instead of he therapist
  11. It makes loads of sense to me. So many top chefs are utter control freaks. I've always felt that people who fight against the shape of their bodies are tragic, deluded individuals who lack the mental flexibility for acceptance and consequently enter the endless, losing battle to prove that they can defeat nature - they can't - we all end up out of condition and ultimately dead. Ramsay and Rhodes are both runners - classic symptom of desperate middle-aged losers unwilling to confront reality. Heston is on a higher plane combining kick-boxing with various experiments in rudimentary mind-control. Jung believed that the crucial point in a man's life came around the end of his thirties when he finally became aware of his own mortality and learned to accept decay with equanimity. 'Raging against the dying of the light' has always been the sign of those too psychologically immature to achieve self-actualisation.
  12. We know it's going to be expensive, extensive and deeply pensive.
  13. Damn. I was hoping it'd be my observation about how all his new female chefs look like effete schoolboys auditioning for Oliver Twist. (Not that I'm suggesting anything by that. Just saying.) ←
  14. Link to Marina's review of FO referring to this thread.
  15. Certainly there is much more to board life than endless bloody dissection of what a restaurant critic has said and, equally certainly, someone like yourself, who writes reviews for a living has no reason to seek validation. What I meant was this... You have to admit that one of the longest lasting and least edifying tropes on a food board is the endless thread which runs... "Critic X said Y about Z. That's shit. I went there and it was brilliant/rubbish" "You're a doodoohead. Critic X is brilliant" ....repeated on an endless cycle, adding precisely nothing to the sum of human good. It's the nature of online communities... it's what happens when access to media is democratised... it's the whole bloody point of the thing - getting to disagree publicly with the traditional arbiters of taste. Obviously you get paid for writing reviews, so you are one of the very few people to whom this doesn't apply but it makes precisely bugger all difference what anyone on a food board thinks about Coren or Gill's abilities as a critic; the fact remains that, until the glorious day when every last dead tree medium is shut down and the dining public go to eGullet for their restaurant recs, the journalist is getting paid for it and the poster isn't - and what they're getting paid for is their writing not their palate Unfortunately, it all thunders along, in a pointless fury of insult and counter insult until it reaches the same inevitable conclusion every time. Restaurant reviewing is entirely subjective so the POV of the professional critic is only better than that of the amateur to the degree that it sells papers by being entertaining. I'm utterly, ring-bleedingly bored of the same bloody 'debate'. I read everyone's reviews out of professional requirement. Some of them entertain me. I don't regard any as an indication of how I'm going to feel about the restaurant.
  16. Surely the 'idea' behind this story is the hilarious premise of sending a big city critic to this 'benighted shitole'. The idea that he's actually applying his critical faculties in any professional way is ridiculous so assessing it as a restaurant review is pointless. It's a really funny piece of writing. I laughed out loud 4 times. That's a better score than most columns in the Sundays that are billed as comic rather than reviews. In a couple of years time when someone is putting together a 'best foodwriting of 2008' anthology this will be in it without doubt. I think it would also sit well in any anthology of comic journalism. It doesn't get better than that. People on the boards validate themselves by disagreeing with the findings of professional critics and I'm sure Coren has been 'wrong' on many counts but you can't detract from the fact that this is a brilliant piece of comic writing by any standard. I wish I'd written it.
  17. In Bristol a 'Growler' was, what Londoners refer to as a 'Richard'. It's pronounced with the full sonorous benefit of the West Country hard R and usually describes a specimen of considerable size and a certain textural rigidity. "Yer. This dropped a roit Growler there, moy luv. You wanss 'ollow that out an paddlit 'ome". Are the pork pies unappetising? Might visiting Bristolians have named them so after unfavourable comparison to their adopted favourite, the magisterial Clark's Pie?
  18. I spent a previous life researching and teaching methods for generating ideas and solving creative problems. There are two things that jump out of this statement for me. 1. Any really creative individual pulls stimulus from all over the shop. I'd love to think more chefs were using historical, political and cultural inspiration - or even, frankly, reading the occasional book rather than just having them ghosted for them. If we want innovation in our food (another argument altogether) then we really need people to at least try thinking this way. It should be encouraged. 2. Being sucessful as a creative is not like O level maths, you don't get any points for 'showing your workings'; in fact you can almost guarantee a trip to pseuds corner and oblivion. In the end, for me, it boils down to this. If the dish is excellent then he's slightly embarrassingly talkative, which is usually forgivable. If the dish is crap, he's a wanker.
  19. Now you're talking! Without wishing to come over all Francis Drake, I see no reason to place Blumenthal in any continuum with Johnnie Spaniard, be it Dali or Adria. Rather plant him in that ragtag phalanx of Angus McBean, George Melly, Wilf Lunn, the Sitwells, Neil Gaiman, Vivian Stanshall, Tristram Hillier &c Oh God.... I'm starting to sound like Ian Dury... "There are jewels in the craaaaaahn of England's Glory......" (Anyone who knows me will be aware that I can afford no greater compliment to HB than this)
  20. Though attempts to grace food with anything like the intellectual rigour of art history are odious, I find the Dali reference interesting. Both Adria and Blumenthal cite memory and humour as elements in their work and in doing so bear some comparison to Surrealists like Dali. Dali is often snobbishly rejected by English art historians, partly because some mistrust the suspiciously commercial accuracy of his draughtmanship but partly, I've always reckoned, because they had a problem with that awkward 'humour' thing. If you partly base an aesthetic on humour it's going to be culturally specific. Dali giggled at naked ladies and elephant bums. Perhaps those things are not so universally amusing. Could there have been a German Dali? An English one? Adria has a lot in common with Spanish Surrealism but I would maintain that HB can't claim a similar connection. If Heston is going to base an aesthetic on humour, dreams and memory, it's going to come out different. I really hope he's looking at the work of the tiny band of English Surrealists. They were funny, amateurish, iconoclastic, geeky and ultimately rather sweet. (Dali, though a constant joker, took himself so horribly seriously - a trait he shares with Adria) Oddly enough, English surrealism informed people like Dahl when he wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It also inspired the set designers who came up with Wonka's workshop in the first film and Caractacus Potts' lab in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. His Nutty Professor persona fits brilliantly into English surrealism, rather better than any remaining connection with Adria. Personally, I reckon the better HB channels Rowland Emett the better he'll get as a chef.
  21. So far, you and I are the only people in this thread that accept that it's happening (but then I suspect we both have some experience in the area) It is a really interesting question who 'They' are. There's certainly been a history of exactly the kind of ring-round you describe which helps raise revenue from bands, retailers etc in a general sense. If a food programme results in more people buying ingredients, that's to be expected. If retailers benefit, it's natural and if the programme makers can claw back a portion of that profit in advertising, sponsorship or PP revenue, then so much the better. I'm not enough of an old Trot to make the argument that 'They' are 'those making a profit'. The point I'm making with the NSOO issue is that Jamie is clearly recommending a particular product which - via some manipulation - is to the benefit of a particular retailer*. In this case 'They' are very clearly one company. There's a rule of marketing (of which I obviously don't need to remind you, though I will for the non marketing geeks out there) which says that marketing activity which benefits your competitor equally is not just 'of no value' but will actually cost you**. Part of the problem for food shows has always been that encouraging people to cook benefits all competitors equally. One of the most pressing problems in food programme sponsorship is how to get round the fact that it, in classical marketing terms, it can only make a loss***. When I see stunts like NSOO I'm positively dumbstruck at the sheer marketing talent that can came up with it. *The argument as to whether the viewer benefits in any way from the recommendation of NSOO over any other EVOO is interesting but probably too involved to get into here. ** If all competitors profit equally but only one has invested in the marketing activity a net loss results ***A situation which could be avoided if the Big Four agreed that all food programming benefitted them equally and that they should therefore sponsor some each - but that would be tantamount to a cartel and that never happens in British food retail ****Yes. This week I are mainly been readin' too much David Foster Wallace.
  22. amazing given there's yearly champagne shortage warnings issued ← Yup, weird how easy it is to get stories in the tabloids... But is this 'corruption' on Jamie's part or even on Sainsbury's? If they weren't selling it before he mentioned it, he can hardly be blamed, and its not traditional product placement. A lot of the ingredients in the Delia programme were either only stocked in a small number of stores or weren't stocked at all till a month or so before the programme publicity started (hence even more reason for the '200% increase' figures---of course there is, they hardly bothered stocking it before). This isn't product placement as its traditionally understood. Rather its the Sainscos becoming aware of an impending demand and reacting to it. I'm not saying there aren't hefty conversations about what's available and what might become available, but its not a simple one-way process as was, say, Coke paying for a can to appear in every episode of Neighbours back in the late 90s. ← I think we're agreeing violently. I'm certainly not saying it's 'corruption' and I completely agree that product placement has evolved imeasurably since the old days of a 'a-can-of-Coke-in-shot-in-Neighbours' with all the attendant backhanders and dodginess that went on back then. OTOH. I think it is vitally important that we don't forget that subtle, modern, planned PP is now taking place throughout these shows, that, as informed and interested viewers, we discuss and understand its extent and that we keep its existence in the public discourse at all costs. The cheery rejoinder that this is all paranoid nonsense is not simply naiive, it's positively dangerous. I can't fathom how anyone can argue against this. Advertising and sponsorship are the only ways we can make decent programmes today, that much is self evident, but people have a right to know when they're being sold to. As far as I can see, the fact that anyone argues that rampant PP isn't going on in these shows means they've already managed to get it under the radar. That means that intelligent informed, food-interested individuals of the quality that contribute to this board are already being heavily advertised to in a way they cheerfully admit they can't see. Am I alone in finding that pretty frightening?
  23. Absolutely correct in every respect. I apologise and will never do it again. Back in the innocent days of the early TV chefs, it was considered unspeakably clever of Delia to improve her home kitchen as a side benefit of shooting in it. In our naiivete we thought that a couple of grands worth of free units kicked in by Smallbone and a UPVC conservatory were the ne plus ultra of pecuniary chicanery. It all seems a bit small beans now. Wozza got his stupendously expensive home-restaurant kitchen put into his ghastly pile and shot there but nobody watched. Gordo supposedly had his home one sponsored but we obviously don't see him cooking there (or anywhere else). Nigella reputedly did the first series at home then subsequent versions were built offsite (A studio in Battersea is often mentioned). Jamie's original 'flat' with the spiral staircase was famously a composite of an actual yuppie hutch for the exteriors and a studio set for the cooking but, as I don't read 'Heat' I can't vouch for the authenticity of his walled garden - he can certainly afford it. I know that the simple rustic kitchen in the gardener's bothy even looks like a studio. If you look out through the back window you can see a bored receptionist flirting with a courier and a couple of sparks having coffee. There's a really interesting piece to be done on exactly how individual sleb chefs now make their money, and how that has changed over time. Little dodges like getting home improvements done on the production budget soon evolved into owning your own production co as the best way of keeping the maximum cash. Things have since moved on as most of the profit accruing to the sleb himself seems to come from book sales which are merely increased by TV appearances - this is now such an issue that it's reputed that the biggest TV production company now insists on a large cut of the book sales in exchange for all the promotion they're giving the sleb. Then, of course, there's supermarket sponsorship, for which, see above.... I can't imagine anyone on the sort of sizeable screw that this lot are extracting would have the slightest interest in having a sweaty TV crew messing up their immaculate Berkshire piles and, though location/reality shooting has evolved immeasurably from the early days of Floyd and the wobbly camera, it's still true that shooting something as unreliable as live cooking is truly improved by a fixed and controllable studio setup. Even when being 'at home' is an essential part of the proposition of the show, it's a risk to do the actual cooking sequences there - clearly Jamie and Nige haven't taken the risk so, if Delia has, she's either staggeringly confident or has somehow convinced the producers that authenticity is more important than first rate telly.
  24. This was rather my point. Sainsbury had begun selling an own label olive oil prominently branded as 'New Season' with a vast facing* at around the time Jamie started name checking it. There is, granted, a small possibility that they'd always stocked this product, so labelled, tucked away in the back of the store, though I find this unlikely. There is also a possibility that Jamie, who has never, I'm positive, specified NSOO in previous series has had some kind of sudden cerebral event that has brought back his time at the RC. A blow to the head perhaps? There is even the possibility that Jamie, wandering blithely through Sainsbury on his weekly shop, happened to notice the NSOO, lurking neglected on the bottom shelf, decided to go home and include it in all the recipes he was writing for his new show and then phoned Sainsbury to suggest that they might want to increases their facings of NSOO as a genuine, altruistic courtesy to their customers. My default position on millionaire cooks who are paid by supermarkets is that they will attempt to sell stuff to people in order to make the transaction worthwhile. Though I'm trying to provoke debate on the matter I find it, to say the least, surprising that anyone assumes that they don't. (*A measure of physical length of shelf exposure and closeness to eyeline - much sought by independent suppliers)
  25. The Crab House Ferry Bridge, Portland Road, Weymouth Dorset 01305 788867 At the risk of sounding like a B52, this crab shack is a little old place.... well actually it's a newish Terrapin hut on an industrial estate just past the commercial dock in Weymouth but that doesn't scan It also does blindingly fresh fish, minimally mucked with and has been well reviewed by inter alia, our own Jay R.. It's by far and away my favourite place on that entire stretch of coast even if it is rather distressingly 'real'.
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