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….






The role of the restaurateur

The role of the restaurateur – 2002 The first of what I hope will be many columns for Business Life – which I intend to make as fun and didactic as possible – gives me the opportunity to make a confession. Because, or in spite, of having spent the past 20 years in and around the restaurant trade, as restaurateur, columnist and consultant to several arts organisations keen to improve their food, wine and service, I do not have a favourite restaurant. This is not because I am difficult to…






Trying to open a restaurant in London

Trying to open a restaurant in London – 2002 No chef in the UK is better placed to dream of opening his own restaurant than 23-year-old Brett Graham. Three weeks ago he walked off with the Young Chef of the Year award, testimony to his innate skills honed by two and a half tough years in the prestigious kitchens of The Square, Mayfair. Yet Graham is the first to admit that this is likely to remain a pipedream. ‘I am on £30,000 a year and unable to save a penny…






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…






The Fat Duck and how it’s run

The Fat Duck and how it’s run – 2007 As managing director of The Fat Duck in Bray, for which its chef Heston Blumenthal has justifiably won three Michelin stars and worldwide recognition, Tony Baker has one of the most enviable jobs in the restaurant world. But one that he arrived at via a most unusual route. Although today many chefs have attained celebrity status their ascent to this questionable position is very different from the sportsmen or artists whose company they are now often seen in. To make a…






Danny Meyer

Danny Meyer; New York’s most prestigious restaurateur – 2003 Before lunch with Danny Meyer, New York’s, if not America’s most respected restaurateur, at Tabla one of his five restaurants, I watched him make his way across the room greeting regular customers, pumping flesh as effortlessly as any political candidate, but far more sincerely. An hour later a woman approached our table, shook Meyer by the hand, told him what a good lunch she had just enjoyed and then turned to me exclaiming, ‘I don’t know what you have done to…