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Stepping out of the kitchen to open your own restaurant is a dream of many people working in the industry today. To rise up through the ranks and eventually go it alone is the ultimate goal but it's also one of the hardest businesses in the world.
A huge number of restaurants fail, bad planning, bad location, just bad luck can all lead to problems and the video below explains this process very well. It features chef Clare Smyth at the MAD Symposium in Copenhagen explaining what it took for her to open her own restaurant in London, Core.
She talks honestly about planning permission, about building problems, licensing problems and mainly, about one really strange event in which a critic, Jan Moir for the Daily Mail, wrote a negative review without ever actually dining at her restaurant.
"Some people seemed to be professional complainers and it felt like everyone was against us," says Smyth as she explains that it felt like even the critics, who should understand the costs involved with running a restaurant in England's capital city, were anti businesses. She adds,"rather than calling out the critics...it fuels me to make them look ridiculous with Core's success."
Without eating at Core, Moir wrote: "Naturally there is an open kitchen, where chefs use gilded tweezers to garnish these dwarf dishes with micro herbs while wearing the expression of someone performing open-heart surgery on a dying puppy. The main dish was a scallop (singular), which looked very pretty but was overcooked — perhaps the team were too busy ironing the petals of an edible gossamer pansy to notice. A great number of restaurants have become so obsessed with profit margins that the food/turnover balance has become hopelessly corroded. It looked to me as if the raw ingredients for this tiresome ‘banquet’ couldn’t have cost much more than a fiver. Is this what happens in a world where customers are more interested in taking photographs of their food than enjoying it? Sad if so."
On top of the absurd revelation that Moir's husband ate at the restaurant on opening night, only to have his wife file a bad review, the chef, who was vindicated with two Michelin stars in record time, also touches on how restaurants are changing, how jobs need to pay better and how she wants her restaurant to play a part in this change.