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Simon Majumdar

Restaurant Magazine

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I actually bought a copy of this magazine yesterday fearing the worst as I expected it to be a gossipy foodie piece of trash.

It was much better than I thought but I still fear for its long term survival. It has plenty of cheffy gossip for the chef whores but that market is too small to sustain a magazine ( Eat Soup, anyone? ) and as a monthly ( it is a monthly isn't it? ) it cannot offer a sustainable resource to the Industry.

The writing veered from the excellent and informed ( the top 100 rich list- Rick Stein, who knew? ) to the feeble and flacid ( an excrutiatingly poor piece on how not to have your staff poached by other restaurants )

The design of the magazine was its real let down.  It resembled nothing more than one of the free magazines one picks up monthly at Safeway.  Magazines take tme to bed in and I supsect this is one area that they are already looking at.

Most interesting of all was seeing how even those at the top end of the brigade ( Head chefs, Sous etc ) were paid so pitifully for all their toils on our behalf.  Doubly galling when you compare it to how much cretins like Oliver make for his risible offerings.

Funniest moment in the magazine was in an add for a Conran restaurant where it said the salary was "excellent" surely the only time the words Conran restaurant and Excellent have ever appeared in the same breath

S

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An enjoyable read with apparently more content than previous issues (I haven't done a editorial vs advertising page count and won't either).

I don't really find anything particularly interesting about rich lists. It's a bit like opening weekend grosses for films. Who cares if it took ษmill, it doesn't make it a better movie. Similarly, the fact that Rick Stien has amassed £20mill won't make me go back to The Seafood in Padstow. As a punter, it's an irrelivancy, as a professional, it may be of interest perhaps.

I don't have a problem with the design particularly. Why not have some restaurant reviews and more interviews.

My ideal magazine would be the food equivilent of Q, i.e. monthly, news section, a couple of in depth interviews, some industry related articles and loads of reviews.

     

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Quote: from Simon Majumdar on 10:37 am on Dec. 17, 2001

...surely the only time the words Conran restaurant and Excellent have ever appeared in the same breath

I thought I read this headline in the business section of the Sunday Times :   Conran to quit restaurant business. "Excellent" says food buff Majumdar.

I know a golf magazine which invites subscribers to test new equipment and play and review course; and a motoring magazine which invites subscribers to test drive new cars for a month. Now if Restaurant would do that for restaurant reviews, I will definitely subscribe :)

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Ok to answer a few questions that have arisen:

Restaurant magazines survival: Fear not for Restaurant magazine. The skill of the team behind it (I exclude myself for modestys sake) and the funding in place (its parent company is The Restaurant Game, set up by the founders of Est Est Est) means this will be no short term project.

Writing and Design: Like Heston (judging from the tangent of the last magazine thread) a good magazine often polarises opinion. If we can keep most of you happy most of the time then we shall consider it a job well done.

Frequency: Restaurant is fortnightly. This allows it to carry better news and recruitment adverts, which monthlys cannot. This is why Caterer (as a weekly) has never had significant competition before.

Audience: Remember, this is mean to be a TRADE title. which is also accessable enough for a gourmet, foodie, consumer audience. As a trade title, we don't focus so much on restaurant reviews. Even trade magazines that do 'review' restaurants such as Caterer or Theme rarely actually pass judgement on the quality of the experience.

I must just add that we have had difficulty getting the two points above across, which is why the magazine now has a front cover flap with 'NEW INDUSTRY FORTNIGHTLY' on it in big letters...

Eatsoup: An interesting reference, as out editor (David Lancaster) founded said magazine. He claims its demise was due to mis-marketing by its publisher IPC. I couldn't possibly comment, but Restaurant is different, and will avoid such pit falls.

I am delighted that Restaurant has created so such interest here. If I talk about it too much, then tell me. Otherwise I am more than happy to field any questions or constructive (####, even destructive) criticisms that you may have.

(Edited by thom at 2:32 pm on Dec. 19, 2001)


It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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Thom - we are delighted to have the inside track as it were. Please continue to post at will.

I enjoyed the short run of Eat Soup, although it was a bit lad mag for my tastes really.

Gourmet magazines for the general public in the this country have a chequered history with many failing, such as Al A carte, Taste, Gourmet Good Food etc.

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The real problem with EAT SOUP ( which Restaurant is not guilty of ) was the laddish thing.  I remember going to the launch party and it was disasterously bad, handled by Beer Davis ( I believe ) and with bad food and crappy lager.  

I found Eat Soup no better than those "how to fool your girlfriend into thinking you're a great chef with a tin of beans and a Curly Whirly" pages that you see in Men's Health or loaded.

What would be interesting in Restaurant magazine is to have restaurants reviewed not just from a food point of view but by another restaurant professional who could comment on new openings, everything from crockery to plating to the front of house.  Now that would be worth reading.

The one regular feature I would love to see and which is never going to happen is a sweepstake of places that are going to close soon.  If Ladbrokes had taken the bet, i would have made a fortune betting on the closure BLUE BELT, a truly horrible place on Old St where modern European Food was served Sushi style on conveyor belts ( I am not kidding )  I gave it a month.  It lasted two weeks and is now a mysterious place with the belts still in place and the salt & Pepper shakes still there looking nothing less that a restaurant version of the Marie Celeste.

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Anyone seen the latest issue of Restaurant magazine yet?

I am curious for feedback, as I fear the latest issue may be as a red rag to a bull, bearing in mind the energetically debated tangent taken by the last 'Restaurant magazine' strand.

Look out for it, whether you're a 'Heston-hater' or a 'Blumenthal buddy'.


It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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I was hesitating about posting for that very reason Thom. However, I thought it was the best issue yet. Setting aside the cover feature for a moment, I liked the lunch story, the Robert Read piece and the lucky seven bit.

I think you need to shrug off the ghost like presence of Caterer, I wouldn't have been suprised to see any of the above in that mag. However, I shall continue to purchase and read with interest as the magazines identity is beginnig to assert itself I think.

As for the cover article, I always enjoy Bill Knott's writing and it was good timing to have HB as cover star, the man for 2002 without a doubt, although he will continue to be a figure of controversy I think.

I assume the interview was done a while ago, as many of HB's ventures for the new year were not covered. HB has promised to contribute to this site quite soon, so I will let him reveal all himself in good time, unless you get the scoop of course!

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I never thought that anyone on egullet would hold back with their opinions...

The reference to Caterer's 'ghost-like presence' is intriguing. Does Restaurant really have aspects of the Grandaddy of all industry magazine? I don't know, I think my perception may have become clouded.

So come on people, tell it like it is. Which bits of Restaurant are like Caterer and which are not? In both cases is that a good or a bad thing? What is missing from Restaurant magazine?

Answers on a postcard etc etc.


It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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Ok  - Caterer© starts with a news section, so does Restaurant ®; C has featured predicitions about food trends in the coming year before as has R; C has regular signture dish items/masterclass articles which is reminisant of Chefs Special in R; C ends with a jobs section as does R, C has regular ingredients articles, as does R.

Design and photography in R is better than C in my opinion. the whole tone of R is much brighter and younger than C. R reads and feels like a mainstream magazine, whereas C feels like it doesn't need to try so hard because it has a captive audience.

I do like C BTW, and am a long term reader, but it can be very boring some weeks. About 1 issue in every 4 is really good.  

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I guess I set myself up for that one... We do start with news and end with jobs, but that is a trade magazine thing. Its like comparing a ferrari to a skoda because they both have wheels and a bonnet, or Mother Therasa with Idi Amin because they both have arms and legs.

The USP for Restaurant in this industry is meant to be its tone, style and 'feel' for the contemporary restaurant industry. Also, its focus, as we are a pure 'restaurant' magazine, whereas Caterer has to satisfy readers in everything from chain hotels to fine dining to public sector catering.

As I say, all feedback is good feedback. So if we're doing anything right or wrong then do say. Without wanting to seem gushing it is a pleasure to be able to call upon a sounding board as educated and passionate as egullet.

Thats enough of that...


It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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I'm not sure the good people at caterer would appreciate the comparison to Skoda and Idi Amin. I realise the news/jobs thing is a bit obvious, but I would reiterate the point that I would not be suprised to see any article that you have published appear in Caterer. Nobu is a good example when both yourselves and Caterer ran very similar stories in the same month.

Whatever you think of Caterer, they have pretty much cornered the market and covered the restaurant scene every which way over the years.

Tone, style and feel will make a big difference but it's what you put in it and not what you leave out (hotels and contract caterers etc) that will make the biggest.

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In my defense The Idi Amin/Skoda examples were extremes to illustrate a point, rather than metaphors for Caterer...

The 'what we leave out point' is a good one. With our core focus on restaurants alone I feel we should be able to include more of the the stuff restaurateurs and diners actually want to read about.

I rest assured that I will hear about it here first if we do not.

(Edited by thom at 10:54 am on Jan. 8, 2002)


It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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Thom - it's great to be able to have this dialogue, thanks for continuing to post. Hope it will be of some use.

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Sorry to reply to my own reply (slippery slope to insanity I know...) but I have another question:

Exactly how many journalists (national press, consumer, trade) are knocking around on egullet?

As well as being addictive and tremendous fun in its own right its an invaluable source of opinion, rumour and gossip, the food and drink (no pun) of publications worldwide.

I am suprised at how few media chaps I recognise (though of course some may be hiding behind whacky pseudonyms). Part of me wants to spread the word to my colleagues. The other (more dominant) half wants to keep egullet all for me, selfish as I am.

So...any journos? And am I a selfish bad person?


It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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God Thom.  Let's stop this love in NOW

Andy already sounds like he wants to have your babies and he is dolling out treatment normally kept for Brucie and Heston.

what have you been doing.  Offering free copies of the magazine?

:)

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A prime example of the gossip and scurrilous rumours I was previously referring too.

Andy and I are just 'good friends', and will only look to have a family when the time is right. Maybe we'll start off by just having a pet; a cat possibly, or maybe a hard feather bantam.

On a much more important note, I will NEVER EVER EVER give free copies of the magazine away. In fact, I would offer my eternal soul before doling out gratis copies of our fine publication.

Reach for your £1.70's cheapskates...

(Edited by thom at 11:59 am on Jan. 8, 2002)


It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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eGullet is yet young and to be honest I have no idea how many industry people or journalists are registered users. I only really recognise Jay Rayner and Anthony Bourdian. Perhaps Fat-Guy has a better handle on this.  

Simon - what's so funny about peace love and understanding? Chill out, as the youngsters say.

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Simon, I can only assume that you prefer your 'peace, love and understanding' dry.

Watch for chafing.

This strand is really going down hill...


It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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It misses the point assessing how many media types hang out here--it's the content that counts regardless of the source.  

In fact, I'd suggest many in the print media still immensely fear the immediacy and accountability of the internet.  Write something stupid or inelegantly argued in a glossy or newspaper and it's soon forgotten, frequently protected behind the ever growing trend of paid, premium access for media archives as an online business model.

As more food writers and editors attempt to transmogrify Ruth-Reichl-like into the celebrities themselves, content managing will become even more imperative.

I suspect chefs and media will compete even more fiercely for this food personality pie.  We're lucky to have who we have--those brave and few with stones like jayraner and bourdain.

But we're also lucky to have the participation of so many non-media types, disparate in sense and sensibility all swirling in the pot.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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But insider gossip is so much more juicy first hand don't you think? Let's get more chefs and journos registered and let the bitching and back biting commence! (Simon and I can't handle the load all by ourselves you know, and the Bruce Poole allegations are getting a bit tired now).

(Edited by Andy Lynes at 5:10 pm on Jan. 13, 2002)

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Steve, I think you've missed the point about whether 'assessing the number of media types' missed the point.

My question was not a method of ascertaining the worth or relevence of egullet as a forum for the restaurant industry (industry people and diners). It mas merely a question from me - as a restaurant AND media person - to find out how many of my colleagues and peers had discovered the myriad delights of egullet.

Incidentally, I also interested as to how many of egullets posters are passionate consumers, and how many work in the restaurant industry. Again this is not to judge quality, I'm just curious. Any ideas Andy?


It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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Well, I can only really go on those that I've actually met and the co-ords. At the recent c***h***d/eGullet dinner at St John, 8 people attended, including myself. None of these worked in the food industry or made a living from writing about it.

If you read the co-ord bio's (linked from the opening page of the site) you will see that the majority of us are pro's, with myself being one of the exceptions.

As to the majority of our regular users, 20 or so have a few have posted in the members bios section, most o fwhich from memory are not pro's. On the UK board,  I think only one person has "admitted" to being a chef.

I have personaly told Shaun Hill, Heston Blumenthal, Henry Harris, Matthew Harris and a few others about the site's existance and have been trying to get them to post something, but to no avail as yet. Wether they are lurking or not I don't know.    

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