September 22 2010
I live in south-west London with my wife Jane and three children. Driving to work is a luxury but it’s one that I could not survive without, given the length of my working day. By leaving at 7.30am I manage to avoid the school-run traffic – which includes my own family! I don’t stop for breakfast, but this morning I did at least have a chance to see my boys. They were up early, as Jake, the eldest, had running club before school. Everyone was on the move fairly early apart from Jessie – our three-year-old, who likes to sleep in.
As I arrived in the kitchen at 8am it was a pleasure to be greeted by Richard, our visitor for the day. We frequently receive requests for charitable donations, or more often auction prizes. Jane and I try to support charities that we can relate to, which more often than not support children in some way. In the spring a number of chefs had donated “money can’t buy” prizes for an online raffle, Chefs Unite for Children With Leukaemia (www.leukaemia.org), which in my case was a kitchen masterclass. (I am always intrigued by the fascination other people have for our working kitchen – I wonder if this could be a new way to recruit chefs?)
By 10am, after I had demonstrated on turbot – one of the most expensive fish we use – and sea bass, Richard, the competition winner, was let loose on some sea bream. We then cooked and put together a simple dish. We have Cromer crab on the menu at the moment, which was a great opportunity to have a go at picking the crab meat from the shell; it’s so delicious. Richard was keen to learn more about vegetable dishes, which gave my eager colleague James the perfect opportunity to discuss cauliflower and the variety of ways in which it can be cooked. It is great to be able to talk about our passion for food and cooking to someone with such enthusiasm and for such a good cause.
At midday Richard joined his family for lunch in the restaurant and had the opportunity to try some of the dishes from the other side of the hotplate.
At that point I had a chance to catch up on a few emails before heading into service for a fairly busy lunch. A quick debriefing with colleagues, and by 3pm I was on my way to a meeting in Bloomsbury; the long taxi journey from Knightsbridge gave me the opportunity to speak to more people, with topics ranging from PR to recruitment to kitchen design.
After an exhausting, though satisfying, three hours spent trawling through new and existing commercial contracts with my solicitor, I was able to return to the haven of the restaurant just in time for dinner service. Another very busy evening there, and the opportunity to launch our brand new home-made crackers and cheese biscuits. We serve a vast array of fabulous cheeses from La Fromagerie on our trolley. They are now complemented by our tasty biscuit creations; perfection.
Hope to get away before midnight tonight; but we shall see.