Much to report after a busy 2014 into the start of 2015. The site maintained a focus on restaurant and hotel reviews supplemented with feature articles, interviews and broad guide coverage.
The iTunes podcast series continues – as always the links are to the written transcripts, you may find the podcast series on iTunes by typing “Restaurant Dining (UK)” into the main iTunes store search box. fine-dining-guide continues to have a YouTube Channel for which the site commissioned and uploaded a professional piece on The Waterside Inn featuring Michel Roux Snr.
The site has conducted six interviews since the last newsletter spanning three guide leaders/editors, a sommelier, a restaurant director and a leading restaurateur.
Diego Masciaga completed his first book in November 2014 called ‘The Diego Masciaga Way‘. In this feature fine dining guide attempts to recap on what makes Diego so special in what he does…
Oliver Peyton is a long standing successful restaurateur with an eye for the magic dust that makes a successful restaurant venture. Here he talks about his past endeavors and plans for the future.
Simon Numphud gives an update on all things AA Restaurant Guide, providing an ideal reference piece for chefs and customers alike.
Elizabeth Carter discusses the launch of the 2015 Waitrose Good Food Guide and what we can expect from this Guide moving forward
Raphael Rodriguez has a role that includes managing the wine list at the exciting new venture – Fera at Claridges – here he gives his insights to the position and the responsibilities involved.
Philippe Gombert tells us some background about himself and the Relais & Chateaux Association as well as philosophies moving forward into 2015 and beyond.
Twitter/Facebook: Both continue to deliver good traffic to the site – @finediningguide has over 6000 followers in February 2015 and the newer facebook page 820 likes. You may go directly to the site’s pages on twitter or facebook simply by clicking on the ‘f’ and ‘t’ buttons in the top right corner of every page on the site.
Restaurant/Hotel Reviews: Reviews by Daniel Darwood have included Restaurant Story, L’Amorosa, Peyote, Bibo and Tinello (See Reviews)
Guides: The GB Guide season took place during September 2014 (as applicable to fine-dining-guide). Relais & Chateaux’s guide is well respected in the hotel community and amongst travelers in equal measure. Marketing of the association has progressively improved over the last decade with the apparent profile steadily on the rise. The new Association president Philippe Gombert (who had stepped into the shoes of Jaume Tapies from the last quarter of 2013) ushered in a year of 60th birthday celebrations: This included a major event in Vonnas; a series of gala dinners at member hotels (such as Whatley Manor); the publication of a new style of annual guide called Taste of The World, supplemented by the new pocket book called The Travel Journal 2015. There is also an enhanced web and mobile app presence.
The ‘gold standard’ of Michelin Guide GB&I 2015 was eagerly anticipated with some buzz about the possibility of a new Michelin three star in GB&I. In the event, no restaurants were promoted to two stars, let alone three. This may represent the calm before the (relative) storm for 2016 Michelin Guide, especially given the number of front runners pushing for that third star and the general level of one stars pushing hard for two. fine dining guide is now tipping Midsummer House in Cambridge to make that big step up to three Michelin stars as well as remaining hopeful for The Ledbury. Those chefs that continue to pursue a ‘one kitchen’ strategy must give themselves the best of chances?!
L’Enclume retained the lofty 10/10 in The Waitrose Good Food Guide 2015 following in the illustrious footsteps of Chez Nico, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and The Fat Duck. Restaurant Gordon Ramsay returned to 10/10 to make three restaurants holding this coveted score (The Fat Duck) in 2015. With the Fat Duck closing and relocating to Australia for the first six months of 2015, the treatment of this address by each of the inspector-led, point in time guides, will be interesting. No new restaurants achieved 5 AA Rosettes in the 2015 AA Restaurant Guide, which saw its largest awards dinner in years at The Grosvenor (1500 attended).
With all the 2015 editions published, along with the AA January update, fine dining guide have updated the ‘Top 100’ feature that lists top restaurants in London, Scotland and Wales based on a weighted formula applied to three leading inspector-led guides. The formula is 6 points per Michelin star, three points per Waitrose Good Food Guide mark and two points per AA Restaurant Guide Rosette. There is an associated Top 20 Restaurant in Britain 2015 feature.
Opinion/News: Intellectual Property specialist lawyers Hansel Henson provided the first in a series of articles for fine dining guide looking at the opportunities and threats faced by top end chefs. ‘Protecting the Brand’ may become increasingly commonplace in the digital information age where actionable ideas float in a relatively unregulated ocean of knowledge. Protecting the interests of the talented may prove an interesting challenge, after all it is the artist not the forger that deserves the accolades (and incomes). Watch out for further features on this area over the coming months.
On a separate subject, it would seem that it is as difficult as ever to find continuity of quality staff for both front of house and kitchen – the types who demonstrate the right skills and the right characteristics. For the front of house, at the first level, the personality of the address is its people, so this means more than understanding the science of ‘how do I do this’ – the ethereal magic is in the art of hospitality: ‘how do you make the customer feel.’ So this is about more than skills, there’s a degree of character, personality and magic dust that go into running the best of restaurant dining rooms that gives them their unique personal signature.
Likewise in the kitchen, the chef has his personal ‘signature’ which must be consistently and ably supported by the kitchen team – how many ‘chefs arrive’ and within months expect it all ‘on a plate.’ No doubt it takes years to appreciate that beyond the required character building hours of dedication, the best of cooking comes from the heart. In effect, like hospitality out front, an art (that can be consistently repeated) rather than purely the science of ‘how do I do this’ or ‘this gadget will do this and that, and this ingredient goes with that!’ How many maturing, blossoming chefs have fine dining guide heard describe a change in outlook to cook from within, a kind of ‘birth giving process for each menu’ (quote Phil Howard), a realization that is perhaps the greatest epiphany of them all!
Until next time Happy Eating!