“We have, collectively, osmotically, decided that we hate the Olympics. It’s costing too much, it’s causing an enormous amount of trouble and inconvenience,” writes the British culinary critic A.A. Gill in the pages of The Sunday Times. But even if the purebred Londoners are escaping to their country homes, there are about nine million people about to descend upon the city.
Which means one thing is clear: London is going to have to provide at least 14 million meals. Everything is happening in the East End, the area that has historically played host to immigrants, with its factories and portside stalls. And looming over it all is the Shard building, Europe’s highest skyscraper. Designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano, it was inaugurated on July 5th.
While Heston Blumenthal and Jamie Oliver, who will be opening a Recipease shop in Notting Hill on the 15th of August, both proudly carried the torch for their nation, London will become the pulsating heart of the world’s culinary scene – and British cuisine will play a leading, though not exclusive role.
REDZEPI AND THE CUBE
For the first time, Rene Redzepi will distance himself from Copenhagen and stay at the legendary Claridge Hotel, where reservations for his pop-up restaurant were fully booked in just a matter of hours. At this point, one can only hope for a last-minute cancellation: A Taste of Noma al Claridge will be serving both lunches and dinners in the hotel from July 28th to August 6th, and will feature seasonal ingredients inspired by British culinary tradition.
From the first of June, another of London’s exclusive venues, the roof of the Royal Festival Hall, is the location of The Cube by Elettrolux, a top-tier temporary restaurant. Elettrolux always chooses breathtaking landmarks for its pop-ups (in Milan, 140 square meters of glass were installed next to the spires of the Duomo), and the fact that the single long table seats just 18 guests adds to its allure. This summer, two main ingredients make for a successful formula: haute cuisine and a fabulous view of the London Eye. A line-up of top chefs will be taking turns at the helm: Sat Bains, Claude Bosi, Jonray and Peter Sanchez, and Tom Kitchin, Scotland’s youngest starred chef. Each one will be proposing a six-course menu starting at 175 pounds, including wine. To reserve, call (0) 207 288 6450.
Just outside the Stratford Olympic site is another pop-up dining experience that no fine dining lover should miss. Jimmy’s Supper Club has been created by Jimmy Garcia, the same mind behind The Wild Food Kitchen and SouthWest Supper Club? He’ll be tempting the crowds from July 20th to August 12th with the best British ingredients, while a giant screen projects sport-themed feature films like “Cool Runnings”, the improbable and true story of Jamaica’s bobsled team, and hilarious comedies like “Dodgeball” and “Blades of Glory”. And of course, the epic movie “Chariots of Fire”, with its unforgettable soundtrack by Vangelis.
AN ITALIAN TWIST AND A SPECIAL PICNIC BASKET
If it’s Italian food you’re craving, don’t despair. At the Olympic village, chef Nicola Batavia has been brought in from Turin to the Nike VIP House, located within the BMA House. He’s also the owner of the Casa Batavia restaurant in London’s posh Kensington neighborhood. The Piedmontese chef will be cooking for athletes and their guests, for a total of around ten thousand place settings, and an average of 500 meals per day including buffets, coffee breaks, an open bar and private dinners.
But the most eccentric and exclusive way to spend a meal during the Olympic Games is to reserve a rickshaw picnic on the lush green lawns of Hyde Park. The organizer behind this initiative is the London Mandarin Oriental, and is limited to the Olympics. The picnic baskets all contain a princely lunch created by executive chef Chris Tombling. Included in the price of 120 pounds per person is a private butler, who will be at your service for two hours.