Alastair and I are brothers. Not too far apart in age but close enough to wind each other up as is the case with siblings and maybe more so with brothers.
I’d say we are both very different and yet very similar in a variety of ways though we would both hope, and I’m sure various folk would concur, that one of our few redeeming qualities is that we don’t exactly take ourselves too seriously.
Reflecting on this, I feel that this trait may possibly be a strength in this industry. Having meandered around many bars and clubs under the guise of “research” wearing my suitably unfashionable “Gucci tramp summer line” (as coined by Alastair) I concluded that there may be a tendency for an entrepreneurial bar owner to disappear down the rabbit hole of one’s own ideas and tastes believing them to be brilliant then finding out you may have actually managed to wedge your now somewhat enlarged cranium up your own bum. If nothing else we have two heads and in my casual wear I apparently look like a bum so those mechanics just won’t work. Am sure there is a pun there somewhere…
But this waffling must stop. If I would be honest and believed Alastair to be out of ear shot, I would say he is the more experienced on the bar front of the two of us. As a student he took on a hospitality course at Brookes University, before spending a decent spell in the army attempting to avoid being shot (by the enemy and his own men). Just before the end of his commission he managed to win a place in the Team GB rowing squad and ended up rowing at the Beijing Olympics (In the picture above I am in the water swimming/controlled drowning out to him after he won a silver medal). I was writing a blog about his exploits for the BBC whilst there, and not just on an Olympic jolly in the East.
But I digress, he went on to become the marketing Manager of a cracking Texan BBQ chain called Bodeans (perhaps you know it and have contracted a case of the meat sweats). After becoming more meat than man he went on to a role as the Operations Manager at the shoreditch bar group (Cargo and the Kings Head are their most noted venues I believe).
As for me, well i am a jack of all trades and master of none. Amongst many jobs I have had a bit of a background in catering and general food shenanigans (thinking about this I probably should be more rotund, with perhaps a larger supply of more voluminous trousers in my wardrobe). I spent my early years working as a chef in various catering companies.
At other points in the car crash of my cv I was a journalist working for many folk (including BBC GoodFood, and even TimeOut for a brief spell). During this time I had the pleasure of spending some time with Heston Blumenthal whilst he did a piece for GoodFood. He is whole process is quite, quite amazing. I must confess I purloined his techniques for my own ends to develop my own mac’n’cheese recipe, which I then went on to sell to a restaurant chain (I plan on leaving a treasure map to this on my death with clues each more dastardly and ingenious than the last). It goes down very well with the extended family which, lets face it, are the folk who matter to me the most and perhaps the harshest critics.
My latest exploits involved a stint in the Benito’s Hat Mexican chain. Ben, one of the owners is an old friend who was kind enough to help run a few of his restaurants. If nothing else, I at least took away a bit of spanish with apparently a “hilarious” accent. I was a wonderful time, though hard at times, but I appreciate it a great deal