Richard Polo

Richard Polo – 2002 Richard Polo, born in Connecticut, USA, to Italian immigrants from Amalfi, has spent the last 25 years in London during which time he has become one of the capital’s most successful, stylish and reclusive restaurateurs. When we met for a coffee and a slice of pizza bianca in the first of his two Exeter Street Bakeries he confessed that he had only once before given an interview, to the newspaper in his home town of West Haven. And, as he looked back over his career to…






Allan Stillman of Smith & Wollensky

Allan Stillman of Smith & Wollensky – 2006 At a rare event in Manhattan, a dinner party in a friend’s apartment, I sat across the table from Alan Stillman, a man who has managed to retain an excellent sense of humour despite 40 years in the restaurant business. Over the osso buco we agreed to meet later that week in his company’s newest restaurant, Quality Meats, on W 58th Street to discuss how he had managed to keep smiling for that long. Stillman, 69, is chairman of the Nasdaq-quoted Smith…






Money and Restaurants

Money and Restaurants – 2001 Money may not make the entire world go round but it has over the past eight years influenced the restaurant world more than any single ingredient, recipe, design or individual chef. The principle that those who have made money elsewhere now turn their attention to the world of good food and wine they enjoy so much has not changed, but its application has grown many times. That small band of hedonists who put their money behind the Roux brothers at Le Gavroche and Pierre Koffman…






The trouble with success

The trouble with success – 2002 Mid April may have marked a significant turning point for many restaurateurs, their first ray of optimism for several months. 2001 was not a particularly good trading year and the last quarter saw a significant downturn in corporate entertaining and international custom, trends that carried on during the first quarter of this year. But the combination of warmer weather, the beginning for many of a new corporate financial year after 1 April and slightly improved hotel occupancy does seem to have heralded an upswing….






Le Caprice’s Personable Jesus

Le Caprice’s Personable Jesus – 2009 Jesus Adorno’s management style is one reason why London’s Le Caprice receives so few complaints every year. As soon as I navigated the revolving door at Le Caprice in London’s St. James’s, I came face to face with Jesus Adorno, a permanent attraction of this restaurant since 1981. Adorno, who began here as a waiter 27 years ago and is now its Director, was standing at the bar doing several things simultaneously with seemingly consummate ease. He was talking to a customer lunching on…






Alcohol and its dangers

The restaurant business’s greatest occupational hazard – 2007 Over a cup of tea and a cinnamon bun, for which the recently opened Nordic Bakery in Soho’s Golden Square run by former Finnish ice hockey player Jali Wahlsten is becoming increasingly renowned, Jon Spiteri looked across the table at me and said, “I bet I know a lot more successful sober restaurateurs than you do.” Spiteri’s emphasis was on the word sober, meaning non-drinking, because for the last hour he had talked about his own personal battle with being an alcoholic…






Marlon Abela

Marlon Abela – 2004 British restaurant correspondents who have looked on enviously as their football colleagues have filled their weekly columns detailing the spending splurges of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich at Chelsea Football Club now have their own mysterious millionaire to write about. He is Marlon Abela, 29, who for the past five years has been buying fine wine on a grand scale at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and across Europe and has subsequently spent several more millions on two London restaurants, The Greenhouse and the private members’ club Morton’s which he…






Richard Caring

Richard Caring – 2006 Mitchell Everard, The Ivy’s genial maitre d’, greeted my host with his trademark smile and warm handshake and added almost in shock, “Well I am surprised to see you here at lunch. This must be the first time.” My host, Richard Caring, who bought The Ivy a year ago along with Le Caprice, J Sheekey, Daphne’s and the other restaurants in Caprice Holdings and then followed this up with the purchase of almost 30 Strada and Belgo restaurants, laughed and replied, “You’re right,” and turning to…






A waiter’s perspective

A waiter’s perspective – 2010 Ed Burgess, 18, having worked as a waiter for the past nine months, has just flown off to spend six months travelling around South America before university. This trip has been funded by the £3,500 he has earned, a combination of the £6 an hour wages he received working as a waiter during this period plus any tips he could generate. Before he left, I met him for lunch in the new branch of Canteen in London to hear what life had been like on…






Carluccio’s rapid rise

The story of Carluccio’s rapid rise – 2007 Next Thursday March 8th Antonio and Priscilla Carluccio will host a rather poignant dinner for friends and colleagues at the Neal Street Restaurant in Covent Garden. Once a gastronomic landmark, it has been their professional home for the last 30 years but the end of the lease marks the imminent end of the restaurant and their food shop next door. However, thanks to Peter Webber, who will be sitting there quietly but with his ultra-professional eye on the food and service, the…