Dish of the Day: Taste of London
It was our first year, so we were a little concerned at the volume, the attention of being the newbies, and the stress it could potentially put on the team at the mother ship.
This is how this week went. Monday and Tuesday were double shifts at the restaurant for Tom (senior sous and day wife) and I, so we could allow the sous chefs days off before their marathons at the restaurant began.
Wednesday was a 4am start so we could set up in plenty of time to give us the best chance of success at the festival. Then every morning started at the Heron tower to collect our goods for the day at 7am (ordered and prepared but one of our sous chefs the previous day) and jumping in a van and lugging over to regents park. Unload, prep, cook, meet wonderful people, do it again for dinner and clean down, go back to work, check all prep is good to go for next day, home, beer, sleep and do it all again.
Meanwhile at the restaurant, our brigade were doing a stellar job of coping with monster services – the feedback I was getting from work and social media was very humbling. To knock it out of the park with 800 covers a day is hard going, physically and mentally.
What I’m trying to say is that this last week, many different people have come together to perform what we thought wasn’t possible. We didn’t want our baby to go down whilst we weren’t there, we didn’t want taste to be a failure in front of the city’s foodies, and we certainly didn’t want to run out of food.
This has only been possible with some amazing chefs I am fortunate to have on my team, some very kind friends who have come to help me out, amazing front of house who worked themselves to the death to make this work, and of course to my wonderful wife who puts up with me being away for 18 hours at a time and listening to my whinging when I get home. A hundred hours later and I’m on the sofa, having a proper meal and a glass of wine, telepathically toasting the aforementioned people for what we’ve achieved.
This may sound like a speech, but I don’t care. These people need credit as ultimately my relative success is down to them, and these people should never be taken for granted.
The best thing about all of this, is that every restaurant I spoke with at the festival felt the same feeling of relief, and I honestly believe that we have a very close chef community evolving – not a single bit of arrogance was present, everyone was helping each other out and young chefs were running around trading food like football stickers. That’s what it’s all about.
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