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Eating in the chefs kitchen


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Dublin chef Conrad Gallagher has just opened in Shaftesbury Avenue and is offering London diners the opportunity to eat at the chefs table in the restaurant kitchen. This is a first for the capital I believe, but is fairly common in the US, Charlie Trotters for instance. My experience of restaurnt kitchens are that they are noisey, hot and cramped, so why would you want to eat in one? Does anyone have first hand experience? Is it better than the dining room where thousands of pounds may have been spent on the interior?  

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I once photographed an article about those private in-kitchen chef's tables and saw almost every one in New York as of about a year ago, and I have seen a couple since then. For the most part they are not actually in the kitchen but rather behind a glass partition so that there is little noise. These rooms can be decorated  just as expensively as the main dining room. If I had to guess I'd say more was spent on the Ducasse "fishbowl" room per seat than on the main dining room. But even for those bare-bones rooms that subject customers to the kitchen environment it seems that for some foodies that decor and ambience are on some occasions perceived as more pleasant that being in a dining room. To each his own!

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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So a slight mis-nomer then, not actually in the kitchen. I don't know what the set up is at Conrad Gallagher, but the Evening Standard review seemed to indicate that the table was not protected from the heat and fumes of the kitchen.

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Preet, it's not posted yet but it will be at http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/html/food/ea...top_direct.html I have just rung the restaurant and the room is seperated by glass from the kitchen. A seperate menu will be available, to be discussed on an individual basis with each party. The table holds up to 22 people, so it's more of a salon privee with a view

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To my knowledge a few people have been doing this for w while.  Burton race ( at the landmark ) Bruno Loubet at the now defunt Isola and also the chap at Foliage whose name now escapes me.

It can be a great way to see a good chef at work and if they take care of you a great experience.  However, like all good ideas the first few who do it, do it well those who follow never get it right because they are doing it for the sake of doing it rather than it being a natural part of the process

We'll be getting chefs tables at cafe rouge next

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I'm waiting for the chef's table at McDonald's.

The most sought after chef's table in New York is Daniel Boulud's "skybox" at Restaurant Daniel. It's an unofficial chef's table because it is actually Daniel Boulud's office. When he designed the new Daniel kitchen, he had his office built in the style of a manufacturing-plant foreman's, which is to say it is in a glass-enclosed box overlooking the kitchen from maybe twelve feet in the air. It can accommodate a maximum of three people because it wasn't actually intended to be used as a dining area -- it's just something Daniel started allowing his friends to do. The official word is that it's for his personal friends only, but in reality he offers use of the room pretty readily to any repeat customer who demonstrates interest.

Another interesting in-kitchen dining situation is at Lespinasse, where you truly can eat in the kitchen -- as in on the stoves. On Sunday or Monday, when the restaurant is closed, you can have a party for up to a dozen or so people in the actual kitchen. They cover one of the Bonnet island ranges with white tablecloths and pull stools up around it for the guests. They cook on the other island. Popular among law firms celebrating successful hostile takeovers, etc.

I believe the gentleman at Foliage in the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is David Nicholls.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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David nicholls is Executive chef and Hywell (?) Jones is the Head Chef. They create the menus between them and Jones executes them as far as I know.

I know that Anton Mosimann has a simialr set up to Boulud in his private dining club.    

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I've toured Charlie Trotter's kitchen. I'm not sure that's much of a special treat. He's very proud of it and I believe eager to show it off to those who care enough to ask. I seem to remember a table actually in the kitchen subject to the noise, smoke and abuse of the kitchen. Can anyone confirm this?

I think there is a multifarous, but subjective appeal. The notion seemed to start at a time when chefs were becoming celebreties and when many Americans began idolizing chefs and idealizing the profession. What could be more appealing than to join the chefs in the kitchen and watch what they do. It was a new concept and there was only one table in the kitchen table and many in the dining room. What better opportunity for a jaded diner than to have some new experience that was only available to a few on any given night.

Then there's Ouest, a restaurant on the upper west side where the kitchen is in the dining room, or at least there's no separation of the two and many tables have a full view of the cooks and the stoves. This is a big step from the many kitchens with a glass wall.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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The River cafe in London has a kitchen open to the dining room. This is where all the al a minute stuff is done. As with all show kitchens, there is a prep area in the back where they do the messy stuff and swear at each other.

I did a 1 day stage in Ciboulette in Atlanta when I was over on business and they had a "theatre" kitchen, which was on show to the dining room. It had a counter where the punters could sit and watch the chefs cook. I actually did cold starters for them that night, about 120 covers. A great experience I can tell you. The chef showed me a wall in the prep kitchen around the back where Paul Bocuse had signed his name. Apparently he had cooked there one night, they had the pictures to prove it. Hey, me and Paul Bocuse! (Funny, they didn't ask me to sign the wall).    

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  • 3 months later...

Information about the kitchen table at Charlie Trotter's is available on their web site.

http://www.charlietrotters.com/restaurant/kitchentable.asp

(Edited by Jinmyo at 10:18 am on Dec. 1, 2001)

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Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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  • 2 weeks later...

There's also a table in the kitchen at Gordon Ramsay, Claridge's (the occupant would be paying extra even though more food should generally be available -- reportedly 100 pounds/person).  

I have a dinner booking for Friday, Dec 28 that I may later give up.  50/50 likelihood.  I may not know for another 10 days or so.  (PS: Mark Sargeant, I believe (?), is the executive chef and not Ramsay.  There's no assurance of seeing Ramsay for those who are considering the table for that reason.  That Royal Hospital Road is closed on that day might increase the chances of Ramsay's being at Claridge's, though.)

Would anybody be interested in taking the reservation (for 2-5 people) if I were to give it up?

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