Dish of the Day: Celebrating our birthday
Last Saturday marked two anniversaries. The 27th July 2012 was the opening ceremony of the Olympics Games in London 2012, the games that most wrote off long before the torch arrived, and the games that had the whole country shedding tears. That day was also the day that our restaurant in the clouds opened its doors to the public. It’s a co-birthday I’m proud of. Not many (if any) people can say they opened a restaurant the same day as the opening ceremony of the Olympics in their home country.
It feels, honestly, like a memory from another life - as if it was four or five years ago. Maybe because we are open 24 hours – theoretically, we’ve been open double the time. That justifies the grey hairs, right?
When I think back to our opening menu, the mistakes we made, the highs we hit, the staff that stuck by us, our ever loyal guests that are so vocal in their support, my bosses, the whole team in general, I’m the luckiest chef alive.
I also see now that maybe we were part of a trend that is only now, two years down the line, bearing fruit: we are seeing the regrowth of a healthy restaurant industry. Two years ago I wouldn’t have expected we’d be seeing eight restaurant openings in a week. Nor that the industry would seemingly find its feet again so quick.
It’s great to see people eating out a bit more, and supporting the restaurant scene. There is a crazy countervailing trend, though – there are so many new places getting staff for them is becoming a problem. Industry Fred Siriex, Adam Hyman, Neil Rankin have all touched on the subject recently, and it’s not something that will be going away any time soon.
The impression of the industry has improved a million times over, but the quantity and quality of chefs and front of house staff coming through the door has definitely not. A great Chef de Partie and a charming, efficient waiter are still a rare bread. Why? Often a lack of training.
So, of course, we must cheer the resurgence of the industry but we must not take our eyes off what makes well-run new restaurants great: the staff. And good staff are well trained staff. So as an industry, restaurateurs, chefs and the front of house, all need to unite together to improve the colleges, apprentices the curriculum and more.
Invest in the youth and we’ll have an Olympian future.
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