Monday, May 31, 2010

A really crazy week end

Yesterday was Mother's Day in France.

That mean a crazy Sunday at the restaurant.

Voyageur Nissart is very well know amongst Nicois & Sunday lunch is often packed with families enjoying the restaurant' simple cooking.

Yesterday was really different- It was mother's day.

There are 2 things that you do on mother's day. First you buy flowers, then you bring your mother and family to your favourite place to eat.

The rush arrived around 12.30, when the mass was said and aperitifs had been finished.

They all wanted to eat at the same time- mega rush in kitchen and dining room.

It was hell: orders after orders- nobody wanted to wait- extra Panisses here; more polenta for this table; who took the pudding order for table 14?; did we charge the extra bottle of Badoit on 16?

When 4pm arrived, the restaurant looked like a mess and everyone had left towards the Promenade des Anglais for some fresh sea breeze.
The restaurant had to be reset; the kitchen had to start another daube and some more lemon tarts.
Last night was also crazy- restaurant filled twice between 7pm and 10.30pm
When I called at midnight, Daniel was exhausted but felt like his mission was accomplished.

42 available seats- over 130 covers during the day. Not your typical Sunday!

Tables in please- the day is over!

Well done to everyone at Voyageur Nissart.

Meanwhile in London, I was enjoying reading our upcoming review in Time Out when I saw, by accident, a tweet from Harden's guide questioning the integrity of Giles Coren review of our restaurant in Saturday Times.
I just couldn't believe my eyes. Harden's got something- but I don't know what it is?????
I thought very hard but I don't remember turning down any of the Harden brothers advances? ...or maybe I did- but that would mean that they were just really ugly and not sexy.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ups & Downs


This week is ending and it was a real roller coaster.

Firstly, I was told off by Antony- our very clever & young PR- for posting light jokes on my blog about very serious Food Critics. So I removed it- too dangerous.

Then, I was trashed by some bitter half baked brothers who have been spending the last 20 years CCing a very famous and respectable food guide. Their review was nausea and full of painful hits. They even managed to put words in other critics mouth- not very clever I thought; again Antony said not to be upset and to move on. So I did- well almost.

I concentrated on fine tuning the operation; trying and trying and trying recipes.
tasting food- tasting food- again and again.

Meanwhile the restaurant has been full everyday- which is a good sign.

Lunch is still a bit slow but I can feel that it is going to happen. Already repeat business- days after days.

Tuesday was photo shot at the restaurant for Jamie Magazine- I should be writing their recipes rather than writing this blog- but I can't help myself-I need to get the things out of my head.

Friday was photo shot for our web site and our own library.

Cath (the photograph) came and did some amazing pictures. It is funny how you get hook by someones pictures. 6 months ago I did not know her at all. She came to Roussillon and did the most amazing portrait I have ever seen. She took the cutest pictures of Roberto- and that is an achievement. Roberto's personality was all over her pictures.

Then I asked Cath to come and take pictures of the restaurant.

It is quite funny the way she works:

It always seem that she is just half prepared- camera in hand- and very quickly take pictures.

If you don't know her, you very quickly come to the conclusion that she is not doing her job properly; instead it is her style- she works like that! And the result is unbelievable. She is dead gifted. She has the eyes.

But where she excels is in her food photo shoot. I don't know if she realised how good she is- but she gets everything right: angle, colour, definition.... everything in perfect osmosis.

I feel very lucky to have met her.

And I was going to forget the amazing review we had from Giles Coren in the Saturday Times.
Couldn't ask for a better review.

Merci Giles.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bangkok is reopening!

In the middle of last week I really thought that we would never reopen our restaurant in Bangkok again.
Tee had been stuck in his flat above the restaurant; he did not get out for almost 2 weeks; the area was a no go area and snipers were on top of of every building targeting whoever would dare crossing some streets. The chaos was falling onto Bangkok and the army could not find a way to stop the red shirts. It is now over (for the moment!)

After a week-end of cleaning, the area is starting to get a new life- street food vendors are back during the day and today was the first day at work for many workers in the Saladeng area.

Tee has been designing his menu and the 24hours market is starting tonight.
Fresh greens from north east are pouring into Bangkok- choice would have never be that fresh!
The huge prawns will all be really alive and the pigs and snakes are being slaughtered- as I write this blog.

Let's look forward to making La Table de Tee once again the most exciting place to eat in Bangkok!

Meanwhile in Nice, Max is breaking all the records!
May has never be that busy- 250 covers in 3 days- not a bad week end!

It is good not to have your eggs in the same basket.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A week into the opening.

So we have just finished our first week of "soft" opening.

It was really great to see things coming together:

Serving our first customers; trying to understand how they feel.
I had been thinking about my dream restaurant for years. Somewhere I could go very often with great food, great service- and without the massive bill at the end of the meal. I really wanted to make the experience of eating in French restaurant available to a wide range of people.

I have had to convince Roberto and Damian to install and offer free filtered sparkling and still water. I have always found revolting going to a restaurant and only being given the choice of mineral water. So many people are still ashamed to say : Tap water please!

Well in my dream restaurant we offer still & sparkling FOC!

Also my dream restaurant should have waiting staff being there for you. They should be gracious, courteous- almost trying to seduce you! The staff needs to be fancied by customers in order to create a certain feeling- it is not always easy but we try very hard.

In the kitchen meanwhile, we have to be very cautious not to go too far. So it was back to what I know we can do best-cooking simple food with wonderful ingredients. I hope this is what we managed to do during our first week.

One last thing before I end this first week: everyone who worked at the restaurant during our first week has done an amazing job. I am so proud of all them. They are really showing a lot of commitment to the restaurant and I just hope that I'll be able to pay them back when they need me.

Roberto has been wonderful- his wine list proved to be exactly what I had in mind- fairly priced and surprising- not too french minded and open to the world.

Damian is really the most promising restaurant manager of his generation. I have no doubt about that. His attention to details is unbelievable- and he knows everything- from cheeses around the world to Service รก la Francaise! I also think that he looks really good in his new suit!

Ready for a portrait from Pierre & Gilles....

Same commitment in the kitchen- hard and serious work.

The thing I am most proud of is entering into business partnership with Gerard.
We have no backers- just the two of us and that is really wonderful!
We did it in Bangkok- we are doing it again in London- and I think that we compliment each other very well. Time will tell but I have a funny feeling that it will work out very fine.

Only perseverance and hard work take you to the moon.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Wind & Waves

I spoke to Maxime in Nice yesterday and It appeared that after the chaos of our restaurant in Bangkok we have a new thing to worry about. The weather has been atrocious in Nice for the last few days. Rain, rain, rain & a lot of wind! The beaches are devastated; it was almost like a tornado storming the beaches from Menton to Cannes.

We are getting into the busiest months of the year. The Cannes film festival is starting in 6 days time and that is followed by the Monaco Grand Prix. I am slightly worry that with such a bad weather, visitors are not going to spend much time in the area. I am also worry that our usual Italian clients are going to give a miss to their usual trip to the Riviera!

It seems as nothing is certain those days; we are going thru a very weird patch. Uncertain times ahead everywhere- and the weather is not helping.

The good news is that we are spending the day cooking- youpi!!!!!
I can't wait to touch the vegetables!
I can't wait to prepare the asparagus, mousserons, girolles....
I can't wait to taste my consomme, infusions, marinade...
I can't wait to try my new toys: blender, bath, pacojet.....

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Countdown has really started...

This is our last week before the opening and it seems that everything is now happening. Nothing can stop it now! Have I lost control? or is everything getting together?

Roberto cellar is getting fuller by the hour; the serveries are really looking sharp;

The reception just need the last varnishing on the floor and I forgot to call the electrician! Damn!
The tables are looking stunning in the dining room and the pictures are up in the loos...

The till system is arriving tomorrow and the CCTV cameras are going up.
The outside sign is also beeing put up tomorrow.
Food tasting for the next 2 days now......

Monday, May 03, 2010

Waiting at tables.....

I have put on the waiter jacket and it fits me like a glove.

I sometimes wonder if I should have been a host rather than a chef. When I left hotellerie school, I decided to spend some times in kitchens. I was told that in order to be an excellent restaurant manager, you should be an excellent cook. So I embarked on a chef's journey and never looked back.
Only last year, when we took over Voyageur Nissart in Nice, did I start working in the dining room again . I just loved it!

Welcoming customers , taking their orders, making sure that their experience was worth what they were paying for...

But my favourite part was to explain dishes! I got into very detailed explanation of recipes;
I was purposely using very technical terms and was always giving them tips on Nicoise cuisine. Some were puzzled by the extend of the details; other were fascinated; no one knew I was a chef!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

News from la Table de Tee

Doing my usual review of morning paper, I read on Bangkok post front page the headlines:

"The Prime Minister held an emergency meeting after warning that the protest is going to deteriorate into an undeclared civil war"

I couldn't have read something more worrying.

La Table de Tee has been totally empty now for the last 10 days; the entire Sillom area feels like a gost town- it used to be so lively .

I wonder what the next stage is going to be. I worry for my staff!

Game Room

So pleased to see the private dining room getting into shape.

Now the flooring is almost finished, we started adding stuff into the room.

My mirror has been hanged on the wall and the old maps are ready to be put up.

The game machine has been cleaned and is looking stunning. I have decided to call the room the Game room. Clive told me that he felt it looked a bit too much like a boy's room. Nothing feminin there! That is exactly what I had in mind: Old Soviet posters; French school maps of the British Empire, Pub 10p slot machine....

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Restaurant Spine

A restaurant is a bit like a tree. There is a tronc and then plenty of branches.

They are all interconnected, moving at the same time, resting at the same time..etc

For a perfect restaurant you need a lot of organisation, precision and a very powerfull till system.

The till system (or Point of sale) is the brain of the restaurant. It distributes the orders accros the departments- it generates info, counts the food, deduct the stock, add the bills, keep record of the spending of our customers.....

For the till system to really work, he has to be adapted to the restaurant site.

I have just spend a couple of hours drafting the till map. See below.

Veganisteria 111

Deep Problem If there was one thing that has seriously amazed me since becoming a vegan chef is the fact that I am still not connected ...