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The Fat Duck, Charlie Trotter and other disturbing trends in the British restaurant world.

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The Fat Duck, Charlie Trotter and other disturbing trends in the British restaurant world.

Michael Lewis | Mar 31, 2001 10:46 AM

The Great British Public and restaurant press are proving time and again that they are thick as pig-shit.

First Marco Pierre White becomes greatest chef in Britain for the sole reason that he is the most famous, not the best, not even nearly the best. Gary Rhodes, amiable but stupid, demonstrates the publicity power of a vulgar haircut, and then decides he is a serious chef, and not the clown that everyone thinks he is. So called 'Wunderkind' Heston Blumenthal shows us that you don't need a stupid haircut to succeed, a mere stupid name will do, that is if you pinch someone else's ideas. Blumenthal is the Bernard Matthews of the restaurant world. For those who are unfamiliar with Mr Matthews, he is the shameless self-publicist who starred in his own adverts and created 1001 ingenious products from turkey whilst never getting around to actually selling a simple fresh turkey you can put in the oven and cook yourself. Blumenthal, charlatan that he he is, has married Matthew's philosophy with a few three star recipe books and come up with the most preposterous menu ever to grace a restaurant. The amazing thing is that the press lap it up. But then why wouldn't they? For a lazy journalist pig's ear candy-floss is so much easier to make a story out of than say, how to do something as prosaic as actually cook a simple thing well.
But worse, much worse, Charlie Trotter is coming to London. Why? Why doesn't he stay in Chicago with all his unsophisticated and undiscerning clients?
I'll tell you; Firstly, he fancies himself as a Michelin Man, a few stars mean he'll be able to put his prices up in his Windy City branch, and secondly because when it comes to unsophisticated and undiscerning clientele, in London he's hit the mother-lode.
London diners are so influenced by the food press that should I manage to get into print a favourable review of a certain doner-kebab stand in Queen's Park where I once got salmonella. Said kebab stand would be swamped first by other food writers (food writers read each other religiously, how else would they find out about new restaurants? God forbid they try anything so old fashioned as journalism) then by all the lifestyle wannabees enthusing feebly about the authenticity of the chili sauce and later about intensity of their diarrohea. Fact is that the people who need the Sunday papers to tell them what's good and what's not don't deserve any better. A fool and his money are soon parted, thank God.

Anyone ever heard of Tante Claire? It's a restaurant.

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