Archive for August, 2019

Chef Interview: Profile Anthony Demetre, (August 2019)

Posted on: August 27th, 2019 by Simon Carter

Anthony’s ambition was far from being a chef, his early dream was to join the fleet air arm division of The Royal Navy and fly jets.  He signed up for twenty-two years but a short time into basic training suffered a recurrent knee dislocation, which subsequently meant leaving under medical discharge. 

Anthony retained fond memories of watching his grandmother cook – both grandparents on his father’s side were of Greek origin – and food was always a big part of their lives.  Kleftiko or Avgolemono were classic Greek dishes prepared by his grandmother.  Anthony also happily remembers, as an eight year old, bouncing lead shot on his plate found in a meal of game.  On a Sunday morning, the family would go to Greek Orthodox church and then come home to have a big family lunch – up to a dozen with aunts and uncles and three young children, in an event that would last much of the day; food and family were so important.

So when recuperating from knee surgery years later, Anthony had time to reflect on what he wanted to do going forward, he saw himself as practical, creative and with a fastidious attention to detail and leaning on his childhood memories, as a naïve twenty-one year old, he took his first professional chef steps as a stagier at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir.

Some time later, foodies may remember a couple of shows in the late ‘80’s that were filmed at Marco Pierre White’s Harvey’s, Anthony had joined that kitchen while one of these aired and briefly shared a flat with Stephen Terry and Gordon Ramsay. “Gordon stayed in that extraordinary but brutal kitchen for four years, the man is made of steel,” fondly remembers Anthony.  

In 1991, having worked for Gary Rhodes at The Castle, Taunton, Anthony followed Rhodes to The Greenhouse – where he rose from chef de partie to sous chef over the next two years.  This was followed by the decision to work for one of the great instinctive chefs of his time at Inn on the Park at The Four Seasons Hotel, Park Lane. For nearly three years Bruno Loubet ran the kitchen as one of the stand out restaurants of its time, widely considered by foodies as the strongest potential Michelin two star candidate of it’s day.  Such was the allure, that initially having taken a pay cut and a reduced role of chef de partie, Anthony quickly earned his stripes in that kitchen.  It was therefore a logical progression that when Loubet launched Bistrot Bruno, Anthony moved with him to Soho. 

The two continued to work together to open a second site, L’Odéon, in Regent Street, where Anthony assumed his first head chef position and remained for a further three years.  Anthony found Bruno Loubet inspirational as a mentor and saw parallels in drive and levels of sheer ability with Marco (Pierre White), in what was a highly rewarding period of both of their careers.

In 1999, Anthony was appointed chef/director of Putney Bridge and in January 2000 the restaurant was awarded a first Michelin star along with four AA Rosettes.  Will Smith, the restaurant manager from L’Odéon had joined Anthony at Putney Bridge and they spent nearly seven years as a cohesive kitchen and front of house team.

Wild Honey Dishes - A Demetre

[Above: A Selection of dishes from Anthony Demetre’s latest venture at Wild Honey Sofitel, London St James’]

In 2006, Will and Anthony launched Arbutus in Soho. Together they pioneered the ’bistronomy’ style of offering in London; Arbutus demonstrated that food previously considered for a fine dining environment, may be accompanied by a short list of wines by the carafe served at tables without table clothes, along with free filtred water. This stripped back formula was a huge hit that led to Arbutus taking plaudits from around the industry, including a Michelin star in its first year. Arbutus was sited where Bistrot Bruno had once thrived, so Anthony knew that his new offering could succeed and it did so with flying colours.

In 2007, Anthony and Will opened a second site with Wild Honey in Mayfair and the restaurant also won a Michelin star within just a few months of operating. Anthony published his first cookbook in 2008 – ‘Today’s Special’ – which explained his approach to modern day dining. 2010 marked the duo’s third restaurant, Les Deux Salons in Covent Garden, which echoed the style of Montparnasse brasseries in Paris. (The restaurant was sold in 2014 to Prescott & Conran.) 

After 20 years business partnership together, 1996 to 2016, Will Smith decided to move out of London and leave the partnership, consequently Anthony and Will sold Arbutus, while Anthony continued to run Wild Honey in Mayfair as an independent solo business.  “The move naturally took a period of adjustment,” reflects Anthony.

In October 2018, Anthony opened Vermuteria Café & Bar in the newly developed Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross, with business partner and designer Michael Sodeau. Reflecting Anthony’s three passions – food, cycling and Vermouth – the site opened with an interior inspired by the sport’s golden age, while offering all day dining, as well an extensive selection of Vermouths.  Indeed his passion for road cycling, has also led him to craft bespoke menus for the Grand Tours of Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France, and the Vuelta with the Rapha Cycling Club.

While the fixed costs associated with running Wild Honey in Mayfair were under review, the time was right to start a new Wild Honey restaurant in the Sofitel London St James.  In June 2019 the new offering opened its doors to customers.  The re-imagined Wild Honey is on a site nearly twice the size of its Mayfair predecessor, in a room with significant grandeur that is, however, underplayed with a relaxed, informal and inclusive feel.  The introduction of all day dining with a café menu that runs in the afternoon, makes it attractive and accessible to a wider audience.  In a way the previous Wild Honey was more of an evening restaurant as the space lent itself to more formal dining in a club-like atmosphere. 

[Above: The new Wild Honey at Sofitel London St James]

For Anthony the new site is like a new lease of life, where he sees the long game of the restaurant world as continually progressing and re-inventing to satisfy both your existing client base while actively appealing to a new audience.  The subtle theme of change between the old and new Wild Honey exemplifies this perfectly.  This allows restaurants to remain relevant and encourage guests to visit and revisit with frequency.

When hiring in the kitchen, Anthony is less interested in the CV and more the sheer enthusiasm for food of a candidate.  “What do they cook at home and what is their favourite dish to cook?”  If they can’t answer that then the CV doesn’t matter, “you can teach chefs skills so hire based on attitude and the skills will naturally follow, a potential for passion for the craft is as important as the passion itself, part of the role of the head chef is to inspire that in their brigade,” considers Anthony.

Anthony is pleased to see the top end of the industry move away from the brutal hours that young chefs used to have to work, including split shifts. He feels that good mentoring partly includes encouraging a sound work-life balance from the outset, although this is given the assumption of natural enthusiasm that can be guided in the right way by the right mentor. In terms of the future, Anthony feels that perhaps he and Will Smith may be remembered as signalling a change in the London dining scene with the introduction of Arbutus and its associated concept.  In addition, Anthony continues to have the happy knack of continuous reinvention that retains his relevancy in each era of dining in London, without being a follower of fashion.  No doubt, Anthony’s ventures will continue to go from strength to strength, as an instinctive chef’s chef and an astute restaurateur, who is appreciated and respected by his peers while being followed by a loyal and ever developing client base in equal measures.  Bravo Anthony!

Feature: AA Food Service Award Shortlist 2019-2020

Posted on: August 23rd, 2019 by Simon Carter

AA Hospitality has today revealed the top three restaurants in the UK for customer service.

The shortlist for the AA Food Service Award is revealed today, ahead of the AA Hospitality Awards ceremony next month. The UK’s top restaurants for customer service are:

·         Moorhall, Omskirk, Lancashire

·         French at Midland, Manchester

·         The Ritz, London

The Food Service Award recognises restaurants that deliver excellent standards of restaurant service and hospitality. Teams will deliver technical service skills and food and beverage knowledge of the highest standard.

The 2018 – 2019 Food Service Award went to Margot, London, which was applauded for its focus on excellent service and its staff’s attention to detail.  

Simon Numphud, Managing Director of AA Media said, “We are very happy to share the shortlist for this year’s Food Service Award. Good service is an essential aspect of an enjoyable dining experience and the three shortlisted establishments are all excellent examples of high-quality customer service. We look forward to celebrating with them at the AA Hospitality Awards next month.”

The Food Service of the Year winner will be announced on Monday 23rd September at the AA Hospitality Award ceremony at Grosvenor House, hosted by Kate Silverton.

Other categories at the AA Hospitality Awards include Hotel of the Year; Hotel Group of the Year; Spa of the Year; Housekeeper of the Year; Chef of the Year; Restaurant of the Year; AA Wine Award; AA Lifetime Achievement of the Year.

Feature: Gold Service Scholarship 2020 Announced, (August 2019)

Posted on: August 20th, 2019 by Simon Carter

The Gold Service Scholarship 2020 will kick off for applications from young hospitality industry professionals on Monday, 2nd September, with a closing date on Wednesday 2nd October 2019. The competition, now in its 8th year, continues its annual search for ambitious and talented UK front-of-house specialists, aged 22-28, working in Food & Beverage, who aspire to greater professional heights in their careers.

Edward Griffiths, Trustee and Chairman of the Judges, praised the phenomenal quality of candidates and their achievements over the past seven years of the Scholarship. “It has been so gratifying and rewarding to meet and mentor so many young people who are dedicated to their particular craft within the hospitality industry. Each year, we have witnessed the pride they take in their work, and the appreciation they have for their involvement in the Gold Service Scholarship.”

Ranging from waiters and assistant managers through sommeliers and bar staff, the Gold Service Scholarship attracts candidates from hotels, restaurants, catering companies and many other service organisations and venues.

The key common denominator of all Gold Service Scholarship applicants has always been a desire to improve their skill set, to network with like-minded industry colleagues, and to engage with the Trustees and Ambassadors who are active mentors throughout the process.

Applications must be made online on An explanation of the Scholarship process, with tips on how to apply, is also on the website. Following the closing date for entries on 2nd October, the Quarter Finals will take place on 26th October at Café Royal and the Langham on 28th October, followed by the Semi-Finals on 25th November at Rosewood London. The Final testing will be held at Corinthia London in early January, followed by the Gala Awards Ceremony on 12th February at The Berkeley where the new 2020 Scholar will be announced.

Karen Gruet, The Current Gold Service Scholar

Past Scholars proudly explain how much their achievement has meant to their career growth. The current 2019 Scholar, Karen Gruet, who is Assistant Restaurant Manager at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, proudly explained: “The Scholarship has enabled me to develop my knowledge through many incredible learning experiences and has helped me explore many different sides of the front-of-house profession.”

Hospitality consultant and Gold Service Scholarship Ambassador Diego Masciaga also commented: “Service is a huge commitment; anyone can be great for a few days but being consistently able to deliver exceptional service requires a 24-hour commitment, hunger to succeed, humility and honesty – and this is what the Gold Service Scholarship instils in our young professionals.”

The hashtag #GSS2020 is in common usage on social media for further information on the Scholarship.  Background to The Gold Service Scholarship is a feature article from 2017 on fine dining guide that outlines the workings of the scholarship and is useful for background reading.

In summary, it was launched in 2012 to encourage a lasting heritage of excellence in hospitality, and it is proud to have the endorsement of Her Majesty The Queen as its Patron.

GSS Trustee Board 9

Its Trustees include some of the UK’s most highly regarded professionals, including Willy Bauer (Founder), Alastair Storey (Chairman), Edward Griffiths (Chairman of the Judges), Sergio Rebecchi, Silvano Giraldin, Thomas Kochs, Sara Jayne Staines and John Davey. The programme celebrates the craft of service in F&B and front-of-house, and nurtures young talent through tailored mentoring. The past seven years’ Scholars and Finalists have had impressive progression in their careers to date, due in part to the networks that they have established during their association with the Scholarship. As Alumni, they also are members of Team Gold, a newsletter and social sharing platform for all Scholars and Finalists.

Interview: Giovanna Grossi, (August 2019)

Posted on: August 12th, 2019 by Simon Carter

[ Above: Giovanna at The Landmark Hotel. She loves this hotel for many reasons. Giovanna went there for Champagne on her first date with husband-to-be Mario and they stayed there together on their last trip to London before he passed away 20 years later. She has also worked closely with the hotel for many years and feels it’s come on such a journey. Beautiful hotel and amazing team.]

Giovanna’s father came over from Italy in 1962 for six months to learn English and work in hotels, but he met her mother, who was from Cheshire, and didn’t go back. When she was about six, a couple who her dad had once worked for and who owned a restaurant in Southport, were selling their business, and offered her parents first refusal. The young Giovanna absolutely fell in love with the whole environment and would find any excuse to be in the restaurant doing one form of little job or another, so much so that her dad could see her enjoyment and during the summer holidays he would take her every week to the wholesale market in Liverpool at 4am and in the old school way, he would personally choose all his fish, fruit and veg – being a part of that was a real adventure for a young girl.

[Above: Giovanna with her dad. She’s a real family person and family mean the world to her. Giovanna’s father has been the biggest inspiration on her career and he is her absolute rock. She chose this picture because it was taken in the garden of her late grandparents home in Italy where her Dad grew up and where she spent summers as a teenager]

One day a new property came on the market and her father was able to realise his ambition of being the proprietor of his dream Italian restaurant.  From around 1978 the new restaurant became a prime venue, for acts and customers of Southport Theatre but also the Liverpool FC players of the day, there was a real buzz about the place.  Meantime Giovanna passed her 11 Plus and the exam and interview for Merchant Taylor’s School in Crosby. However, she was unhappy and failed to settle but was fortunate to be able to transfer to the grammar school, when someone moved from the area and liberated a place.  The school was within walking distance from home, situated between Royal Birkdale and Hillside Golf Clubs and a scene of far happier times.  Taking a year out before going to Manchester University, where she studied accountancy, led to Giovanna spending a year working in the business and it was during this time that she realized that her career future post-university, would be in hospitality.

In 1993, Giovanna had some challenges with a London based supplier and a manager travelled up to Southport from London to resolve the problems.  This man turned out to be the love of her life, Mario, and they clicked from day one.  Over the following years he spent his weekends working in the restaurant so they could spend time together to the point where he became fully integrated into the business and customers really loved him, too. 

[Above: Giovanna loves this particular picture of her and Mario because they were both really happy and it was taken during a wine trip to Sardinia. Mario spent his life working with wine and food importation/sales and it’s how they met, so it seems quite a poignant photo.]

Giovanna had always wanted to be a journalist when she was younger and as she loved the restaurant trade, writing for the Good Food Guide had always been a dream.  As it happened, in early 1999, she saw an advert in Caterer for an AA Hotel and Restaurant Inspector.  With numerous applicants for only three positions, Giovanna didn’t anticipate success.  She had two interviews and for the second borrowed a laptop to type a presentation.  Sitting behind her to be interviewed directly after her, was someone who would become a dear friend, Paul Hackett, who is still at the AA today.  Despite some anxiety throughout the application process, they both found themselves employed on the AA Hotel and Restaurant inspection team.

From 1999 to 2003 Giovanna effectively worked seven days a week as she split her time between fulfilling her hours and responsibilities at the AA, while also covering the important shifts at her parents’ restaurant.  This proved exceptionally hard work but gave Giovanna the best of both worlds.  Giovanna was fortunate to cover a number of different patches in her first few years, the North West, the Lake District (during the challenging foot and mouth crisis), Central & East England, and then ultimately Giovanna found herself responsible for central London, which brought with it the biggest section of the AA Restaurant Guide to manage.  This enabled the building of a network of chefs, restaurateurs and hoteliers in the capital but the schedule and workload were quite punishing, travelling from her home in Manchester every week. 

[Above: Jason Atherton, Clare Smyth, Marcus and Jane Wareing. Giovanna loves this picture for a number of reasons. It’s some of the old Ramsay guard that are now all super successful in their own right and have produced their own protégés. It was September 2016 and her last AA Awards working full time for the business. It was a very emotional evening for Giovanna as the AA arranged a surprise presentation for her and she had to make an unprepared speech in front of 1000 industry friends and peers.]

Around January 2006, Giovanna was promoted to a role of Key Account Executive and was responsible for liaising with approximately fifteen major Hotel Groups and whilst this more corporate role took her out of her comfort zone, she had the opportunity to forge some great relationships with some major figures of the hospitality industry.  The London and South East Area Manager role became available some 9 months later, and her experience of London and desire to manage a team again, led her to apply for the position. She loved the role and strived hard to support and develop her team. Towards the end of 2007, the opportunity arose to apply for the position of Group Area Manager, a revised version of the old Chief Hotel & Restaurant Inspector role – it involved overseeing the inspection team and also brought responsibilities for sitting on awards panels, including a panel with the national tourist boards with responsibility to update shared quality standards for hotel and B&B inspections.  Giovanna was successful in her candidacy and over the next nine years was to make the role her own.

[Above: Everyone knows Giovanna and family are huge LFC fans. She was fortunate enough to meet Steven on a number of occasions during his career at Liverpool, as he lived in Southport and then Formby and was also a partner in a restaurant business with a very old friend of hers. This picture was taken at an AA Awards that Steven kindly attended, when he was captain for both club and country.]

Giovanna was responsible for ensuring that all restaurants nominated for three, four and five Rosettes and hotels nominated for AA Red Stars, had the relevant confirmation inspections and that the nominations for all the AA Hotel, Restaurant and B&B Awards were written up for the AA Hospitality Panel to discuss at their meetings twice a year. Giovanna soon found herself sitting on a number of judging and awards panels on top of managing four regional managers and helping build training and the early consulting programmes that The AA were developing.  

[Above: Adam Reid, Mark Birchall, Niall Keating. AA Awards 2017. Three chefs whose careers Giovanna has watched go from strength to strength]

In Spring 2012, Giovanna broke her leg and had to take an enforced absence from work. This coincided with a dramatic decline in her partner, Mario’s, health.  He had crippling arthritis sadly followed by a nasty accident in early 2013. Giovanna found strength from within she didn’t realise she had, looking after Mario while juggling battles with hospitals, work schedules, care schedules.  Sadly, the love of her life passed away on 3rd August 2013.

For the next few years Giovanna threw herself into her work, partly as a coping mechanism, feeling the emotional strain, she had moved out of the apartment they had shared for sixteen years and had relocated down south, while also fighting an unwanted, long, hard legal battle over the estate.  In January 2016 her long-time manager Simon Numphud left the business for pastures new. After settling the legal battle finally in February that year, Giovanna felt it was the right time to take some time for herself and to spend more time with family and friends, do some travelling and pursue her passion for training and mentoring hotel and restaurant teams; she made the tough decision in May 2016 to move on from The AA. 

[Above: Clare Smyth and Claude Bosi; both achieved 5 AA Rosettes at The AA Awards 2018. Two restaurants Giovanna absolutely loves and two chefs she’s very fond of and who are at the top of their game]

After handing in her notice, there was an attempt to make her reconsider and finally a half-way house in the form of a part time Special Projects and Ambassadorial role was agreed.  The objective was to champion The AA, based around a working arrangement of four to five days a month.  This proved a happy relationship for the next two years and covered the void until Simon Numphud returned to the business in a new permanent role and Giovanna’s own training business Giovanna Grossi Hospitality was by then taking off and was taking up more of her time.

Giovanna happily agreed to retain a voluntary role on the AA Hospitality Awards Panel and indeed her reach in the industry was reflected in the number of bodies, panels and committees she has contributed to and indeed continues to support.  These include The Golden Keys Concierge, The Cateys judging panels including Menu of the Year and Chef of the Year panel, The Hotel Catey Spa Professional panel as well as Hotelier of the Year, sitting on the Hospitality Action fund raising and marketing committee and judging Boutique Hotelier Awards.

[Above: Liam and Ellis Barrie. Giovanna has been a judge on the Acorn Awards for a number of years now. It’s one of the most rewarding competitions she judges. It highlights future talent in the industry. Both Ellis and Liam are Acorn Award winners and what a talent they are and what great success they’re achieving. Giovanna is super proud of them.]

Back in September 2012, Maureen Mills had invited Giovanna out to lunch with Amanda Afiya of The Caterer at The Corinthia, and whilst they knew each other, and their paths had crossed a number of times, it was to be her and Amanda’s first outing together and the rest is history…  Their friendship blossomed over the following years and so when Amanda was approached by Jo Barnes and Nicky Hancock of Sauce Communications to potentially launch a Mystery Guest business, it seemed a natural next step to involve Giovanna to take the idea further.

[Above: Giovanna and Amanda Afiya are very much a team. Giovanna says Amanda’s kind, funny, intelligent and beautiful inside and out; She can’t imagine her life without Amanda in it. She loves that neither takes themselves too seriously and that now people tend to invite them as a pair to things.]

Giovanna brought to the table extensive experience and knowledge of hotel and restaurant inspecting from a professional guide perspective, as well as a proven developer and provider of training and consulting programmes to the hospitality industry.  She could not only play a significant role in aiding the development of a state-of-the-art technology platform for the bespoke report writing by mystery inspectors but also contribute to the solutions provided thereafter.  This remains an early but exciting entrepreneurial adventure and one that suits Giovanna well.  After a career of consistent success and achievement, Giovanna has established herself as a much loved, admired and respected industry figure – the coming together of Jo, Nicky, Amanda and Giovanna is surely one to watch and an opportunity certain to deliver success to their clients while continuing to garner a high profile in the industry.  Best of luck to her and long may the future be bright…

Interview: Amanda Afiya (August 2019)

Posted on: August 6th, 2019 by Simon Carter

[Above: Amanda with chef John Campbell at the Foodservice Cateys]

Amanda grew up in Surrey, attending the prestigious City of London Freemen’s School in Ashtead.  Having achieved seven O’Level (GCE) passes, Amanda was encouraged by her parents to enrol at Pitman’s Secretarial College in Wimbledon.  While it was an intensive course, with up to three hours shorthand every day, plus two hours at night, Amanda enjoyed the process and passed with flying colours.  Ironically, parallel to the secretarial course was one in journalism, which Amanda possibly would not have met the qualification bar for entry.  In March 1986, when close to graduation, Amanda applied for a secretarial role to the front of house manager (advertised in the Evening Standard) at the THF Heritage Hyde Park Hotel in Knightsbridge (now the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park).  The upside of the job was that it felt like being behind the scenes of a stage production, a role that certainly whetted the appetite for the industry. 

After a year, Amanda moved to make her first appearance at The Caterer, which was in a secretarial capacity on the advertising side, then after another year and followed by a stint of traveling, she returned to Reed Business Information (RBI) publications with ‘Restaurateur’ and ‘Pub Caterer’ again as a PA to the Advertising Director. In 1990, Amanda started at The Caterer as secretary to the first female editor in their then 112 year history (founded 1878), years later Amanda was to become only the second female editor of the magazine. With her high standard of shorthand, Amanda was able to support certain members of the 25-strong editorial team by calling people on their behalf, asking agreed questions and making notes.  Amanda would write these up verbatim from which the journalist could more simply write copy and hit a deadline.  This proved a skill that would stand her in good stead later as a researcher. 

The recession at the turn of the ‘90s meant RBI put the brakes on graduate recruitment but they still had a first-class graduate training programme.  As a result, they decided to open up this training to those in-house and over the next few years Amanda found herself effectively PTC trained having attended courses in news reporting, sub-editing, feature writing, as well as legal courses.  In June 1993, a sub-editing role on the production desk became available and through a tough learning curve she became very quick at passing through corrections to proofs from the section heads.  There were four sub editors and two designers, however through a variety of circumstances (such as maternity or sickness), the business was unable to provide cover, and, as a result, Amanda and the production editor found themselves working 7.30am to 9.30pm every working day. 

Having slowly earned her stripes on the production desk, Amanda was able to take her first proper writing and reporting role on the chef desk and remembers a calming drink prior to interviewing Gary Rhodes as she thought every chef would reduce a journalist to tears, but gratefully learned that there was a more gentle variety.  Over the following years, Amanda covered virtually every editorial team role. 

[Amanda with Mark Sargeant, the year he cooked for the Cateys, 2015]

In 2002, Amanda’s work came to national attention when Simon Wright, then editor of the AA Restaurant Guide, confided in her regarding what was to become “The Petrus Scandal”. Marcus Wareing’s Petrus, co-owned with Gordon Ramsay, was in St James’ Street at the time that the AA Restaurant Guide were promoting the restaurant to five rosettes.  Prior to the official announcement, Roger Wood, MD of The AA, had booked a table for six at short notice, but when personally checking the arrangements immediately prior to the visit, was dis-satisfied. Mr Wood subsequently went back to The AA and personally intervened in the awarding of the promotion.  Simon Wright stood by the ethical decisions made by his professional inspectors and resigned.  After significant media pressure, The AA reversed their decision and awarded the five rosettes.  The Caterer broke the story, backed by a significant paper trail of memos and emails that had been provided by the resigning editor to Amanda, in what was to be the hospitality trade story of the decade.

During her early days, some time in 1994, Amanda had interviewed Gordon Ramsay and being of similar age they got on well, regularly speaking, with Gordon offering occasional tip offs of stories. She developed a similar relationship with Jason Atherton when he had worked for Stephen Terry in Frith Street.  It was like they all grew up together during those early times.  So when later working on The Petrus story (for three months) she had agreed with Simon Wright that as soon as he told Gordon Ramsay about the situation, he would effectively lose control of the story, meaning that it would break via The Evening Standard and then onto the nationals.  So with mutual trust, Caterer only went to press with Simon Wright’s blessing, which was on a Tuesday, appearing on newsstands on the Thursday and was the only publication to be able to source verbatim internal discussions that backed the story.

Previously, in 1994, Amanda had met chief inspector David Young of The AA at an inspectors’ conference and subsequently went on an inspection visit with him to the River Café.  David had been at the AA for 18 years when he left in 2002 and so having known both him and Simon Wright, Amanda was naturally a little wary of where she stood with the guide after their departure.  The emerging triumvirate of Gordon Cartwright, Simon Numphud and Giovanna Grossi, who were taking the AA forward, may have offered a different relationship.

[Above: Amanda with the late, great Andrew Fairlie, who she knew and relied upon for advice for much of her career – pictured with former Caterer colleagues Kerstin Kuhn (left) and Katherine Alano (right) and chef Matt Gillan (far left), who is currently opening his solo venture Heritage in Slaugham, West Sussex]

By 2003, Amanda had already been with the Caterer for thirteen years when the position of managing editor became available.  She and Mark Lewis both went for the role and Mark was to take the position for the next 11 years.  Amanda’s feeling was to be indispensible to Mark.  She and Mark had complementary skills – she had come through the magazine and had a detailed hands-on view of editing, whereas, in his new role, Mark could afford to be more strategic.  Amanda became editor in 2014 when Mark became publisher.  At this time, she was also looking after the Cateys, the Hotel Cateys and Foodservice Cateys, Hotelier of the Year, the Acorn Awards, various forums and conferences so it was a big responsibility – Writing speeches and making public addresses became, to begin with, a forced fit but necessarily on-going part of the role.

[Above: Amanda, third left, on a trip to Noma (February 2017, just before it closed to relocate) with several members of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts including Phil Howard, Brian Turner, Martyn Nail from Claridge’s and John Williams of the Ritz]

When Amanda left Caterer in October 2017, the first person to offer her work was Michelin two-starred chef Sat Bains, who suggested that she could do his restaurant PR.  While she had known Sat since 1999 and it was true she had a number of media contacts, those contacts were in a completely different context to moving forward a client’s PR strategy.  Having always lacked a degree of self-confidence with a healthy in-built fear of failure, Amanda felt it made more sense for an established PR to be behind Sat Bains.  She had known that Jo Barnes and Nicky Hancock of Sauce Communications were long-time admirers of Sat and would be both delighted and capable of managing his account.  So, with Amanda fronting a pitch, the relationship with Sat was established. 

At the same time, Amanda had taken a non-exec directorship on the board of hospitality recruitment specialists Cartwheel, as well as a six month contract in an ambassadorial and writing role at The Caterer. She continues to write for The Caterer today. Testament to the high regard Amanda is held within the hospitality industry, she continued to represent bodies which she is proud to give back her time to support.  These included chairing the fundraising and marketing committee for Hospitality Action, sitting on the fundraising committee for Adopt a School (for which she is also a trustee), a judge for the Cateys and The Acorns (previous chef winners of the 30 under 30 Acorn Award have included Marco Pierre White, John Burton Race, Jason Atherton and Gary Rhodes).  So despite having moved with her family to Tavistock, she would continue to be doing an amount of travelling up to London as well as throughout the UK.  As Jo and Nicky were delighted to have Sat Bains as a client, they suggested that Amanda might write inspection reports on their clients’ properties, which could coincide with her visits to London. A win-win and so began the arrangement that brought in the co-founding expertise of Giovanna Grossi, from which Sauce Intelligence was born.

Fast forward to the present and Sauce Intelligence has a full-function, custom-built, state-of-the-art technology platform to facilitate client engagements, the development of which was funded by Sauce Communications.  A client project is a four-step process, first the consultation to fully understand the client, their goals, brand standards and objectives.  Second is an audit to assess all areas of the guest experience.  Third is comprehensive reporting from multiple and on going mystery guests visits, against a bespoke reporting structure with tailored performance analytics to understand how the business is meeting its own objectives.  A significant part of that is gathering emotional intelligence ‘how did particular elements of the stay at the property make you feel’ and this can be a key differentiator for operators.  Finally, solutions that may range from a raft of training options to refocus the staff on meeting brand objectives and cultural values through to recruitment, media and PR – a one-stop-shop solution offering to the hotel and restaurant industry.

This is something that is very exciting to Amanda and she is thrilled to be a key part of it going forward.  Amanda has clearly broken boundaries in her career and set and passed standards that are to be admired.  No doubt the current venture will be approached with the same vigour, passion and enthusiasm that has characterised Amanda throughout her career.  Best of luck and wishing her well into the future…