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Everything posted by Zoticus

  1. London Eating is somewhat under-seasoned; i.e. the reviews should be taken with a generous pinch of salt. For example, their top tens consistently feature this restaurant, Michael Moore. I don't claim encyclopedic knowledge of London's restaurants, but I have never heard of this place. Surprising, since it is supposedly so good.
  2. Fair enough. My point was though that he had done enough (even if he could achieve more). I don't think the comparison with JCN is fair either, by all accounts the man went completely expansion-bonkers, and there is no reason at all to suppose Aikens' project is of the same order of lunacy.
  3. Uh-uh. Again you're getting confused mate. Your mistaking critical success and great food with commercial success. Surely you know the first rule of haute cuisine: Its a bitch to make money at the top end. You just ask Pierre Gagnaire *** Or Richard Neat * Or Marc Meneau *** Or Christine Mansfield Or David Cavalier * ad infinitum... J ← Certainly not ad infinitum..., but anyway... What are you saying here, that Aikens is critically successful but is not making any money? I don't have access to Aikens' financial details so I can't argue with this, but the fact that he is branching out suggests that he has access to at least enough funds to do so. On the other hand, following your 'rule', then he has no choice but to branch out in order to consolidate his critical success. Perhaps you think he should hold on until he wins the lottery.
  4. I would have thought running a successful London Restaurant was synonymous with managing a business.
  5. What do you mean 'before he can walk'? Aikens has been around long enough to know what he's doing, and he doesn't need to top Restaurant Magazine's 50 Best, or get a third Michelin star before he opens another joint. As you say, London could do with something like this. Better Aikens than MPW, Ramsay, or Conran.
  6. The bit about the 'That's Life' potato was sheer genius. I'm not sure that it's such a brilliant night for restaurants though. For example if it falls on a weekend you'd be full anyway, so you might end up doing less covers; e.g. twenty tables of twos instead of twenty mixed tables of twos, threes, fours etc.
  7. Critics are customers, albeit ones that subsequently write up their experiences in print.
  8. Well, of course, it depends what you mean by 'destination' restaurant. I think you'll agree that there was a serious buzz about FD for several years before the third star, and that was thanks to Maureen Mills, whose job was certainly not made any more difficult by PR friendliness of Heston's cooking. That is so fucking heartwarming, it could almost have been written by a PR.
  9. You're right there. The FD is also exceptional in the sense that Heston had a lot of cash at his disposal, so the normal rules of business don't really apply. In answer to the question, when did the FD become a 'destination'? It can be pinpointed to the moment Heston got Maureen Mills to handle the PR.
  10. Matthew's right about pricing. You need to be busy before you put your prices up. Otherwise you might end up with slow product turnover, and people will be even less enthusiastic about paying top prices for produce that's been lying around all week. The last thing you want is a reputation for being expensive and sub-par. Finally, I suppose you are not the owner. Do bear in mind that owners ambitions regarding restaurants are not normally the same as the chefs that they employ. Owners rarely crave adoration to the same extent as chefs, and are generally interested in profit. Tread carefully in this respect, and don't be so naive as to believe that anyone is going to spend any more of their cash on making you famous than is necessary to benefit their business.
  11. Without wanting to debate the definition of advertising (after all what is PR?), I'd be very wary of direct advertising. I always think ads are a last resort for a restaurant and a piss poor substitute for good word-of-mouth. From a business perspective a full restaurant should be a successful restaurant, even if many chefs consider anything less than an eponymous TV show as a humiliating failure.
  12. Like it or not, some PR is a must, especially for out of town places. If I were you I'd rope in any celeb you can, and call the local papers. Didn't you used to work for Heston? I'm sure you could get him to pose for a few pictures and say something nice about you. Remember, locals will be your bread and butter at the beginning even if you aspire to a wider public, and local papers are usually generous with their praise and astoundingly uncritical. The message board thing clearly works well too; just look at The Bacchus. Also, bear in mind that you are in the hospitality game; bend over backwards to make sure that your clients leave happy. Send out surprises -- "Chef wanted you to try this"; comp liqueurs, and never charge for things that get sent back even if the customer is a twat. If you eventually crack it, you'll get all this back in spades. Your first objective should always be that your restaurant functions as a business; i.e. returning clients and no debt. Coverage come later. Too many chefs think of their restaurant as a showcase for their talents and forget that for most people its a place to have a good time. Unless you've got money to burn you must get the business end right before you start thinking about transcending the kitchen. In other words be a good chef, and you might just get lucky, but if you're not cheffing right positive coverage will never come. Eating out is a total experience, good food is not enough. Think of yourself as host.
  13. Thanks Simon, doesn't exactly sound like a great career move though. Shame, I've heard he's a good person.
  14. No it's not. It's about doubling turnover. And by the way a Mr John Fenn recently passed away in Lagos and has left an unclaimed estate of £3 million, I can transfer it to your account if you front me £25K. Yours sincerely, Barrister Zoticus.
  15. Apparently, there's a notoriously stern dominatrix based in Whitby. [Edited for typo]
  16. It seem that Dominic Chapman is no longer cooking at the Hinds Head Hotel. Does anyone what he's doing or the circumstances of his departure?
  17. the dining pub of the year award was awarded about a week before we took over, this years good food guide entry though is all our own work and we have maintained our entries in the good pub guide, alistair sawdays & michelin red book & pubs and inns. ← Well done! Please post whether it has any effect on business, it would be very interesting to know. On another note altogether, is this for real: "Heston Blumenthal's triple-cooked chips (his one great contribution to British gastronomy so far)"? Only one?
  18. Interestingly, Marmite is also an old army remedy for crabs.
  19. That's a tricky one. I suppose that given the temperature of the gazpacho you'll want something cold. How about a Manzanilla? The dynamic rawness of gazpacho, with or without mint, is going to play havoc with whatever you try to pair with it. Manzanilla is particularly appropriate with a gazpacho, and I imagine the mint thing will work in its favour, since Manzanilla is excellent with mint heavy Moroccan dishes.
  20. First of all, friendships are forged over many years, and more so in the tightly knit 'cuadrillas' of the Basque country. If someone feels that they are 'part of the family', 'friends' or whatever after a meal, then that person is projecting something entirely different onto what is essentially just very good service. It's also, and I'm sorry to say this, a bit patronizing and even a bit weird. My own thoughts on googling and whatever else is that many diners focus on what they might be missing, rather than what's in front of them. Sure, some people do get special treatment; how different this is is anybody's guess since you can't be in both places at once, but it's not many and it's not worth getting exercised about if you're not one of them. In the end everybody pays despite what they get comped, and getting upset because you haven't been recognized for the international diner that you think you are just misses the point of what is pleasurable about eating in these places.
  21. Well if they dont want to be there there in the wrong trade!!!!!so leave ← I don't think that London is exactly brimming with opportunities for east-european immigrants. Anyway, competent waiting staff are rarer are much rarer than competent kitchen staff. Young chefs are saturated with role-models that justify the absurdly long hours and pitiful wages. They have their eye on the main prize and for a few years are kept going by the thought of becoming the next Jamie, Gordon or Heston. You can't say the same for waiters; it must be thankless task, and one that very few would choose to do were there other options available. I'm sure that if you, Simon, lost your sense of smell and taste in a freak accident, you wouldn't slip contentedly front of house.
  22. This is very true. To an overworked staff, an important award like this just means yet more work.
  23. If Santi Santamaria required evidence for his tirade then this was it. Sheer twaddle of the highest order.
  24. this comment is, like, so non creative. Loosen up grandad - "food meets music special" - it's got wow factor written all over it. I just can't wait to discover what they'll pair with food next - "food with WAG's special"; "food with cosmetic surgery special"; "food with contrived shock about racism on TV special". Mind you, not all of these would be mutually exclusive, but a month is a long time and people have short memories. ← Surely it's only a matter of time before we get a Celebrity Chefs on Cooking issue.
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