Behind the scenes at the James Beard Awards

Behind the scenes at the James Beard Awards – 2006 Halfway through the four-hour marathon that was the 16th James Beard Foundation Awards on 08 may in the excessively chilled ballroom of the Marriott Marquis in New York, Shawn McClain of Spring restaurant in Chicago accepted his award for the Best Chef in the Midwest by speaking for the entire 700-strong audience when he said, “It’s a great relief to be up here on the podium. Sitting down for two hours is a long time for a chef and something…






The man behind Le Pain Quotidien

The man behind Le Pain Quotidien – 2005 Alain Coumont does not look like the kind of businessman whose New York office receives 50 emails a day from companies and individuals around the world looking to secure a franchise. But then not many businessmen are sitting on quite the successful and fashionable formula that makes up Coumont’s rapidly expanding Le Pain Quotidien empire of organic bakeries, cafés and food shops. Tousle haired, restless and wearing a pair of distressed designer jeans, Coumont, 44, looks more like an ageing rock star…






Claire Clark

Claire Clark – 2008 Had the mothers of Scarlett Johansson, Nicole Kidman or Cate Blanchett followed the advice of Noel Coward’s song and not put their daughters on the stage then they would have forfeited not only international careers but also small fortunes. The same opportunity now confronts the mothers of a particular group of chefs known as pastry chefs – or, more elegantly in French as patissiers – whose career prospects, and therefore their ability to earn and to travel the world have improved enormously over the past five…






Giorgio Locatelli on starting a restaurant in London

Giorgio Locatelli on starting a restaurant in London – 2004 London’s hoteliers are smiling. Figures for the first quarter of 2004 released a fortnight ago revealed that occupancy and room rates were considerably better than anticipated and a series of reasons were proffered – most notably a higher level of international air travel after the Iraq War and SARS. One significant explanation for this upturn was, however, not mentioned. Most hoteliers, and not just in London, have behaved like good managers and have not only cut one particular area of…






Anton Edelman at Anton’s

Anton Edelman at Anton’s – 2008 As maître chef des cuisines at The Savoy Hotel for over 20 years, Anton Edelmann was not only the bearer of one of the longest and most respected titles in any kitchen but also in charge of 90 chefs with whom collectively he was responsible for over 2,000 meals a day. Today, he is a partner in Anton’s, a restaurant with eight chefs and room for only 90 customers, which opened earlier this year down a narrow country lane close to Bishops Stortford, only…






Latium and Maurizio Morelli

Latium and Maurizio Morelli – 2008 Maurizio Morelli, the Roman chef at Latium the Italian restaurant opposite the glitzy Sanderson Hotel in Berners Street just north of Oxford Street, has created a successful alternative to the ‘signature dish’ which so many chefs and restaurateurs dream of. It would be extremely difficult to try and calculate how much profit and publicity dishes such as the spinach soufflé at Langan’s Brasserie, the roast duck at Le Tour d’Argent in Paris or St John’s dessert of Eccles cake and Lancashire cheese have generated…






Shaun Hill

Shaun Hill – 2004 Last week Shaun Hill began to take reservations at his Michelin-starred Merchant House restaurant in Ludlow, Shropshire – where he is the only chef and his long-suffering wife Anja the only waitress for a maximum of 24 customers – for feb 05. Having taken sufficient reservations to fill the entire month in less than a day, Hill will then close what he bought in 1994 as a private house but subsequently transformed into one of the most respected British restaurants of the past decade for ever….






Californian cuisine (and its literature)

Californian cuisine (and its literature) – 2003 I picked up Jeremiah Tower’s California Dish – what I saw (and cooked) at the American Culinary Revolution with as much anticipation as if I were sitting down for a meal in one of his restaurants. Tower shot to recognition in the early 1970s as the chef behind Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley before moving on to open Stars, where he remorselessly points out ‘le tout San Francisco’ wanted to eat and then the less successful Speedo 690. During this period…






Claire Clark, a master patissier

Claire Clark, a master patissier – 2006 The connection between the current dessert menu at The French Laundry in California, arguably America’s most admired restaurant, a vicarage kitchen in the Buckinghamshire countryside and the once popular J Lyons Corner Houses may not be initially very obvious but it is encapsulated in the smiling, but steely determined person of pastry chef Claire Clark. Last year Clark became the UK’s most significant culinary export when she left her job as Executive Pastry Chef at the bustling Wolseley on Piccadilly for a similar…






Christain Delteil

Christain Delteil – 2002 After passing an exam at 13 and a half to prove to the French educational authorities that he was bright enough to leave school, Christian Delteil set off in 1967 on a three-year apprenticeship during which he was paid absolutely nothing for the first three months and then the princely sum of 150 French francs a month, plus board and lodging, for six days’ work a week over lunch and dinner for the next 33 months. Today, he employs 40 chefs who each work 48 hours,…