Dish of the Day: The restaurant industry – it’s stressful!
People who open restaurants, restaurateurs, chefs, front of house people, must all be mad. The amount of money that gets invested, the tight margins, the volatility of the industry, these are the things that most people probably know about, and if they don’t, well, trust me, its bloody stressful.
That’s not what I’m here to talk about though. There is one thing that stays at the back of my mind, the main memory that comes to mind when the thought of doing another opening comes to mind, and it’s not that of winning a critic over, having a full restaurant, winning an award or pleasing ones bosses. No. There is one thing that kind of haunts me.
When Jay Rayner, Giles Coren or any of the other big hitting journos come to dine, (apart from the mysterious Marina) whether they book with a fake name or just turn up on your first night, you know them, they are easily recognisable and, in the first three months at least, you expect them. All the team, front and back, run through walls to make sure their table is perfect. That too, I’m sure, most people know.
The memory that gets to me though, that puts me off doing it all over again, is that on the Saturday evening prior to one of our reviews coming out, I remember walking around Aldgate at 1am in the morning, knowing the Times could possibly be in some shops, and if I couldn’t find it, I knew I’d get it in Kings Cross.
I’d been at work for 18 hours, I was exhausted, things weren’t as smooth back then, we were still learning about working in a skyscraper and all of the logistical issues we have to work around. The team was new, we were all tired, but, walking in the rain with no umbrella, a zombie of a man, I just couldn’t sleep not knowing, good or bad.
Of course, I could have just subscribed to The Times Online, maybe it was the fatigue that prolonged that realisation, but, luckily for me, one of the lovely people of Twitter emailed me a photo of the review. It was ok, I guess. Giles is a difficult boy to please, but hey, at least I could go to bed, after all, I was due back four hours later.
As an ambitious chef, after a couple of years you crave another opening – the challenge of it all, the high stakes game, the sense of being on the stage for all to see, win or lose. Yet the apprehension remains, do I really want to go through that again?
It bring lots of sleepless nights, but my god what an amazing feeling it is. Bring it on.
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