February 25 2012
Last day of the week for the kids, everyone excited about weekend plans. Four-year-old Jessie was very excited to be making a pizza during school today; perhaps she will follow in my footsteps? Why not? There are many other cooking dynasties. She also sent me to work with a colourful snail picture that she drew in class. It is now stuck to my office wall next to the December drawing of Father Christmas – almost a gallery now.
Archie, seven, was eagerly practising his five-times table in anticipation of his weekly test. He is keen to move on to his threes. Jake had his head in a book, which is unusual for him, but he was nearing the end of a marathon read. Before I left, I watched a clip from Thursday’s episode of This Week with Andrew Neil. Great to see chef Michel Roux Jr representing our industry, discussing employment and the familiar practice of kitchen work placements. We regularly have chefs in our kitchen who have asked to work with us for a short stint. They are either between jobs or working a trial to get a job. No different to what I did at Le Gavroche 22 years ago for Albert Roux.
Reached the kitchen at the usual time; there is a lot of preparation to do on Friday mornings. It is always really busy – today we have over 50 guests for lunch and over 60 for dinner; and at the weekend we only serve tasting menus for dinner, so there is plenty to organise in anticipation.
I am really looking forward to a forthcoming trip to Brazil. In 2010 I went to São Paulo and took part in its food festival and met some very interesting people, including a photographer who took a stunning picture of something I made – which is now hanging in my hallway at home. We have started to talk to this same photographer about the possibility of taking the food shots for the future Gilbert Scott cookbook.
This time I am going to Rio to participate in a great event on behalf of the British government, and I am proud and delighted to be acting as an ambassador for British cooking. We have put together a selection of canapés to be served alongside some Brazilian fare, prepared by one of the best-known chefs in Brazil, Roberta Sudbrack. It will be a flying visit, but while I am there, there’s the possibility I will be taking part in running the Sport Relief Mile with Prince Harry. I run a lot at weekends, so I am looking forward to it; all sponsorship support is welcome, readers.
At the restaurant we get many charity requests, and we couldn’t possibly support them all. A few favourites, however, are coming up soon: Who’s Cooking Dinner takes place on March 5. It has been running for a number of years, and is in aid of leukaemia research. After cooking for one table each, a group of well-known UK chefs are then “auctioned” off as prize lots to cook for a small group at the highest bidder’s home. There is always healthy competition here: which chef will bring the most bids? It’s all for a fabulous cause and is led by my good friend Christopher Corbin of The Wolseley, so let’s hope all are feeling generous that night.
Then Fred Sirieix, the manager of Galvin, has finally persuaded me to take part in a charity boxing match with some other foodies. It is being planned in aid of Galvin’s Chance, an initiative to inspire young people in London into work. I was an amateur boxer from the ages of nine to 18, so I understand how painful this could be, and how fit we are all going to need to be for the challenge. I am quietly looking forward to it – but I do wonder a bit if I am just too old? In any case, well done, Fred.
Despite the high number of guests, lunch service ran smoothly, and I was back at my PC by 3.30pm. A Chef’s Table was in for lunch – some faces I recognised from previous visits.
Jane bought a Mac last week, due to the frustration her old laptop has been giving her. She works from home a lot and has been edging from Windows to Apple for a while. Now she has finally made the leap. The problem she now has is deterring our eldest son, who is insistent that he should get to play on it too.
Had a reminder about the summer holidays. We tend to go away in August, but this year we have been putting off making a decision because of the Olympics. I sort of want to be in London, as it will be a pretty special event; but we have no real idea how it will affect business – and of course traffic will just stop. Nonetheless, still very exciting – so our holiday may have to be delayed this year.
Service was tough tonight; quite pressurised, a lot going on at the same time. We were sending three or four tables out simultaneously from different areas of the kitchen. All tables were on tasting menu and everything comes past either me, Mark or Darren for checking before it leaves the kitchen. I love to see the kitchen in full flow; it’s a great performance for the Chef’s Table. I certainly hope it looked like perfect calm – probably not the chaos they were expecting, in any case. We are also extremely quiet; no shouting.
Didn’t get home until after midnight, had a quick snack in front of the news and a nice glass of wine – it is Friday, after all.