How are you? Hope all is swell wherever you are. I just wanted to jump on and write a super quick blog on the back of riveting TV that’s claiming an hour of my precious Monday night.
It’s a documentary on the run-up to the opening of two restaurants chasing Manchester’s first Michelin star. The French at The Midland Hotel goes head to head with Manchester House. I’m hooked on the behind-the-scenes footage, tempers fraying in the steaming kitchens and the restaurant Svengalis hoping to make a killing in this somewhat precarious economic climate. Hats off to the producers of this show, because it’s very rare that a television programme grabs me. There’s precious little that I find engaging aired on terrestrial TV these days (even my favourite James Bond repeated for the thousandth time can get a little boring).
So imagine my surprise at finding myself getting sucked into the lives of chefs Aiden Byrne and Simon Rogan. I think it’s because I’m something of a foodie that I love seeing how great chefs live and function in the kitchen. Tasting menus on the £100 mark, a whole manner of sci-fi-esque food and front of house staff that look as if they belong in a Bond movie make Restaurant Wars irresistible viewing.
Now this is where it gets interesting. I thought about epic fights and what I immediately thought of was the brilliant (albeit girly) fight scene from Bridget Jones’ Diary. I don’t condone violence in any way, shape or form, but I imagine Aiden and Simon would engage in frivolous fisticuffs like Hugh and Colin here. And I like choosing a team. From Team Samsung (Apple should not exist) to Team Jacob (I still have a soft spot for Twilight) I like it when things get competitive. Don’t ask me why, I just do. Which restaurant do I want to succeed in getting that highly coveted Michelin star? I don’t know.
There was that icky moment when I handed out a massive mental strike against Manchester House, upon learning that they wasted £4K worth of food serving to an empty restaurant. I couldn’t help thinking (along with thousands of Twitterati) that it was a colossal waste of food, which could have been given away to homeless or people who really needed it. When food-banks are grabbing the headlines, it was stomach churning to think that food was being dished out and thrown in the bin at the whim of an extravagant foodie CEO. We have now heard that Manchester House offered the food to a homeless charity, but it was unfortunately refused because it wasn’t registered. I’m prepared to accept this at face value – there have been times that I have wanted to volunteer my time and resources for a good cause, only to be told that I couldn’t because of red tape. And I think it would be folly for big restauranteurs to publicly champion food wastage without exhausting all ethical options first. Tim Bacon, backer of Manchester House certainly knows what he’s doing (I recently reviewed one of his other restaurants, check out the Artisan piece here). Michael Magrane of The Midland seems to be astute too and I hope both restaurants flourish in their own way. Having never dined at either establishment (blasphemy I know), I’m reserving my judgement until I check them both out. As a food journalist, I cannot wait to dine at both restaurants for a compare and contrast post. Watch this space for a review on both restaurants coming soon.
Ciao for now (told you it was going to be quick),