Ten facts about Where Chefs Eat

Published on Life in Luxury on 29th January 2013:

  1. Where Chefs Eat is a directory of over 2,000 restaurants as recommended by over 400 of the world’s best chefs.
  2. There are recommendations are geographically arranged by continent: Oceania, Asia, Europe, Africa and North and South America, all mapped.
  3. There are also two indexes to help you navigate the book, by restaurant name or by recommendation type.
  4. For 26 selected cities, there are more detailed maps indicating the locations of the restaurants and in effect, turning the book into a local restaurant guide.
  5. Each of the 400 or so chefs involved has recommended a minimum of three restaurants according to the quality of food alone.
  6. The chefs were asked eight questions each: “Which restaurant do you eat at most regularly?”; “What’s your favourite place to go for breakfast?”; “Late at night where do you like to eat?”; “Which restaurant best sums up your city or region, a restaurant you’d consider a local favourite?”; “Where serves your favourite bargain meal?”; “Where do you go to celebrate a special occasion?”; “Which restaurant do you admire the most and wish you’d opened yourself?”; and “Which restaurant would you travel any distance to eat at?”
  7. It took 12 months to create, enlisting an editorial team of 25.
  8. Joe Warwick, who compiled the book, is the former editor of Restaurant Magazine who spearheaded the creation of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Award.
  9. There are no rankings in this guide. Instead, the restaurants are categorised according to: “Breakfast”, “Late night”, “Regular neighbourhood”, “Local favourite”, “Bargain”, “High end”, “Wish I’d opened” and “Worth the travel”.
  10. Each restaurant listing includes address and contact information as well as opening hours, reservation policy, credit card, price range, style, cuisine and recommended for. Some also have quotes from chefs or short reviews.

On food and relationships

Published on The Prodigal Guide on 28th November 2011:

Food writing, it’s a complex game.

For the aspiring, and even established writers, who are desperately trying to charm editors into a commission, it’s not only hard work but also extremely competitive. Equally, though, the food circle is very small and winds tighter and tighter the closer you come to the fore. Everyone seems to know everyone else in this industry and, as a consequence, everyone else’s business too.

I often wondered what one might read on the rags of a Gossip Girl equivalent of this little incestuous crowd. Judging by what one hears on the grapevine, it’s detrimentally scandalous. Thankfully, no such column has been penned. Yet.

Of course that is not to say the subtleties of relationships haven’t escaped into writings here and there. Indeed, on these very pages and elsewhere, Douglas Blyde wrote of our fleeting encounter during the summer months. But like the chilled champagne served during that lukewarm season, the bubbles dissolved as they surfaced and quickly fizzled out. And at the end of it, a teased palate was left unsatisfied – because when two hungry gourmets collided, the explosion was gastronomical.

The intricacies of navigating a post-love battlefield are always delicate, but it’s even more so when all paths in the small space afforded eventually lead to heart-mines. Faced with the omnipresence of these reminders, I got thinking about food and relationships.

While my own recent forays into this connection has been a romantic one, it isn’t the rule across the board. Certainly, it wasn’t why I got into food in the first place – my love of eating did that.

For chefs in particular, the link has been mostly inter-generational and apparently patriarchally skewed. Nigel Slater got into food because he wanted to please his father; Allegra McEvedy started cheffing following the advice of her father; and Simon Hulstone probably wouldn’t have competed in the Bocuse d’Or if it wasn’t for the competitive streak instilled in him by his father, who at one time was also a competition chef.

And there are many chefs with fathers in the industry like Dominic Chapman, Henry Harris and Alain Roux; the list goes on.

Then there’s all the ways that our relationships in food have influenced our cooking style. There’s Cass Titcomb of Canteen who was always brought up on the best of British and that’s filtered through to the menu served across their five venues in London. Or Jun Tanaka of Pearl, a Japanese chef known for his French style, who started by working through all of his father’s top rated restaurants, all of which were French.

And that’s just about chefs. What about academics? Politicians? Artists?

It seems that food and relationships is a subject so fertile that a bare few hundred words would not do it justice. So while the seed of this idea is sown here, I will ruminate over what grows from it in the columns which will faithfully follow.