Monday, October 11, 2010

Taste The Difference! I didn't....

Surprise, surprise...
As I was reading the Times a couple of weeks ago, I found myself wondering as why on earth our Louis XV Crunchy Pralin with gold leaves was on a full page spread!
I thought that our PR company had managed to pull an amazing trick.: Full Page in The Times free of charge!
That is when I realised that Sainsbury's had just released their new line :
Taste The Difference
The Times was not showing a great picture of our Louis XV Crunchy- Pralin; no! they were advertising the DOUBLE CHOCOLATE & PRALIN CRUNCH.
A very close cousin of our star dish here at Gauthier Soho.
And to make the resemblance even more pronounced, they added a magnificent piece of Gold Leave on the top of their PRALIN CRUNCH. Just like us!
I could not wait to try this new "original" product from the new "original" line of Sainsbury's.
I called Clive and asked him to rush to our nearest Sainsbury's and get one as soon as possible; I would try it as soon as I got home at night.
I spent the day wondering how awful this copy could be. I was certain that they would have messed up the entire pudding. I had the feeling that it was going to be a disaster- and I was quite happy about that.
How on earth could a chain of supermarket like Sainsbury produce such an exquisite and refined classical French patisserie.
When Alain Ducasse created this dish, he thought about the crunchiness of the praline topped by a very light and intense chocolate mousse- and to round the whole things up a Glacage Paradis would take everything together under a very slight Resistance of the reduce chocolate sauce. The osmosis would be perfect....
IMPOSSIBLE TO REPRODUCE- unless you are a Patisserie genius with God gifted hands....
I spent the night in the kitchen tasting every single dishes that was going to be served to your guests- so I wasn't particularly hungry or willing to be impressed with food by the time I reach home.
Everyone was asleep and I rushed to the fridge to discover this little box stuffed with 2 very ugly chocolate dome topped with the smallest piece of gold leave you could think of!
It started well.
My spoon went in the soft glacage- I said: Merde, this is perfect texture.
Then my mouth felt covered by the unctuously of the chocolate mousse- it was a very high quality chocolate mousse- I was dreaming.
Then the crunchiness of the Pralin came right thrue my mouth- the balance of crunch & softness was just perfect- YES fucking perfect!
I had one; and the other one. Didn't want anybody else to have one.
I didn't want to risk my 5 years old son Arthur saying : Papou, this chocolate Crunch is better than yours!!
I would have answered: "Pfuuf...Not me who created it anyway- Call Ducasse and tell him if you want....."
So as far I am concerned I saw the Difference but didn't taste any Difference!
Brilliant Louis XV at £2.30 for 2!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Festival Food

So the restaurant festival has just started and we couldn't have kick start the celebration better than with a tube strike! Quite a lot of restaurants had to close their doors tonight in Soho- staff & costumers alike couldn't get here or couldn't go back home.
Having a restaurant in France, I can tell you that a strike day is wonderful for restaurant owners. Everyone take the streets, protesting from 10am and then at 12, take a long boozy lunch before starting the afternoon march.
Only when the day finishes, they all meet again in restaurants for long arguments on how the day has been or what will be the next day of strike!
Early September when striking was on everybody lip in France we made our best day ever at the Voyageur Nissart (taking wise). Today with a massive tube strike we did our worst day ever at Gauthier.
We need to educate British Tube Strikers.
I wonder what Bob Crowe had for lunch today?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Visitors and critics


I was supposed to finish this blog about review and reviewers weeks ago! Time flies- big time. Everyday brings a little more distraction and I end up writing this blog 10 minutes before the service starts!

I was going to tell you how much reviews in newspaper and magazine influence me.

I was going to tell you that I read and and read reviews from my favorite food critics while putting the restaurant together...

I was going to tell you how I felt when a review is brilliant and when a review destroys me!

Well actually it is quite easy to imagine : happy or very sad.


One thing that I realised is that every review has a point- so it was vital for me to weight Le pour et Le contre of each review.

One week end during the month of July we had 2 reviews in 2 Sunday magazines; eaten the same day, in the same room by 2 different reviewers:

one loved it and can't wait to comeback- the other one finds the all experience useless.

If you read left- Great review

if you read right- Crap review

So that is the point of review- a matter of taste and politic- just like our customers.


What is important now is to keep our guests happy by providing superb food, superb service..etc

and most important making sure that our pricing is right.

During my last trip to France, I was almost tempted to try a very up and coming restaurant near Nice.

1 Michelin star, young chef, exciting cuisine...

Sadly when I saw the price of the A la Carte, I knew that I will end up banqueroute if I ever order anything from his menu. The price was horrendous-

35 euros for a starter & nothing below 65 euros for a main course!!!

I felt very sorry for the chef as I am sure even at this price he doesn't cover his costs.

Running a restaurant relies too much on having hands serving plates, hands preparing the food, hands washing dishes..etc But those hands are attached to French voters body who believe in being looked after by THE STATE.

The NI contribution is enormous: 1euro goes to NI for every 1euro you give to your staff.Working hours are at 35hours a week (even in the catering industry)- every extra hours after 41 hours a week costs you another 50% extra(with a maximum of 45 hours per week); I know that every month you have to pay for a new tax: keeping the 50's + in employment- sending your staff to the STATE doctor for nothing other than 80 euros per employee- apprenticeship tax- CSG... plus all the bank holidays and the strike days.

Mission impossible to succeed.


Happy to be in London? Oh yes..........................but I have a restaurant in France too.

Merde alors.




Tuesday, September 21, 2010

LONDON RESTAURANT FESTIVAL MENU HURRY

GAUTHIER SOHO
21 Romilly Street
London W1 d5af
0207494 3111

4-18 October 2010
PREMIER PLAT


Foie Gras Apple-Sultanas
Crispy Herbs Caramel
Calvados Reduction Deglazed with Verjus


Or


Scottish Scallops & Girolles
Parsley Cream, Garlic & Crunchy Granny Smith
Light Crustacean Dressing


Or


Salsify & Curry

Braised Salasify, Poached Quail Eggs
Light Curry sauce & Mango Chutney


DEUXIÈME PLAT


Autumn Truffle Risotto
Chicken Jus Reduction & Brown Butter

TROISIÈME PLAT


Cut Of Welsh Lamb
Autumn Vegetables from Secrett’s Farm
Classic Pommes Dauphines
Garlic & Lamb Jus


Or


Slowly Baked Icelandic Cod
Marinated with Soya & Sugar
Braised Celeriac & Leeks
Lime Aromatic Jus


Or


Light Herb Millefeuille
Wild Mushrooms & Almond-Tofu
Crunchy Pear & Port Jus


QUATRIÈME PLAT
Golden Louis XV
Crunchy Pralin & Gold

Or


Warm Apple & Caramel
Crumble Chiboust
Caramel Ice

4 Plats
£25

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Recap of Summer


It is almost surreal as how fast time flies!

I just realised that I haven't been updating my blog for almost 8 weeks.
8 weeks spent juggling between entertaining my kids, traveling back and forward to Bangkok and Singapore, researching new suppliers, new ingredients, founding new employees, dealing with management crisis, paying wages, delaying payment to suppliers, torturing Gerard mentally, replying to rude customers, developing our wine business, cooking, ignoring phone calls from energy company trying to make me save money, browsing the net for a bit of porn, creating menus for Christmas, forgetting my mobile phone in my Bangkok bedside table,.... etc
I guess that is the usual life of running a business!

The most annoying thing during the last 8 weeks was to have my computer stolen.
Everything is gone!
My family pictures (especially the ones from Arthur & Anais birth)- all my recipes & menus - the Flowers, Petals & Herbs book I wrote while at Roussillon- the collection of gay porn that took me ages to download-The budgets & forecasts for all my restaurants. Really annoying.
Also the reason why I did not write anything on my blog is that I did not have any money spare to buy a new PC- I paid the wages first- which I thought was a better thing to do!

The restaurant has been quite packed for the entire months of July & August, so I thought that I could indulge in a new bottom of the range PC world' slow and under equipped Compaq.
I am going to make the most of it!

Need to go back to the kitchen now- the whole pig has just arrived and needs to be butchered.
Next time I'll talk to you about the Tsunami of restaurant reviews we have had this summer...






Thursday, July 08, 2010

back in Bangkok

I have been rather quite lately,did not get any time to update my blog for more than 2 weeks now! The restaurant has been running to almost full capacity for the last 2 months and other than cooking and sleeping- I can't find time to do anything else. Arthur school term has just finished and it was time for the entire family to go and spend some time in Singapore and Thailand. We left last week end, first Singapore and now Bangkok, where Clive and the children are going to spend the next month. I am back in London this week end- too much work in next week.3000 guests over 5 days in Belgrave Square for the history of Food is surely going to keep us very busy. We have created an amazing little starter for this event. It is called the Rocher a l'Or It looks a bit like a Ferrero Rocher but we have replaced the chocolate by foie Gras and the nutella by a reduction of Semi liquid Port Jelly. It is then rolled in caramelised crushed almond and topped with gold leaves. The show is set in an old Ambassador residence and I thought that it would be a nice touch to have a bit of Delicious Naff Food! I am planning a trip to the Meat market tonight with Tee. hoping to take some pictures of the amazing stuff happening there. Believe me , it is quite amazing! Cannot say more just as yet.if I don't get chopped up by furious open air butchers, I shall be able to share my horrors on this blog. Now is time for a delicious lunch of braised pork chin with very sharp orange vinegar followed by the most succulent mango one could find....

Monday, June 14, 2010

Today’s Vegetable Menu


 

GOÛT DU JOUR


 


 

Green Asparagus

Sautéed Mousserons Mushrooms


 

The asparagus are quickly pan-fried in olive oil without coloration with salt. Then we add ½ a glass of water and cover.

They cook for 4 minutes.

When the lid is removed the entire liquid has disappear back into the asparagus.

The asparagus are bright green and look shiny and tender.

In another pan, we turn the butter brown and quickly pan fry the mousserron mushrooms.

It is vital that the pan is large enough so the mushrooms concentrate their taste within the brown butter.

Otherwise, the mousserron release their water and the whole thing turns bitter.

We plate the asparagus and put the mushrooms over it.

Easy & simple but delicious.


 


*

Light Green Pea Velouté

Soya marinated Tofu


 

Peas are prepared everyday- we keep the pods.

Peas are quickly washed and pan fry with nothing more than olive oil, salt and water.

We cook them for 3 minutes- that's all.

We add some ice cube and blend very quickly.

Meanwhile we boil the pods for 10 minutes. Then we blend them and add the pod'jus to the pea.

We taste the soup and keep in fridge for at least 3 hours on ice. It must be very very cold.

We always buy the softest Japanes Tofu- we slice it and marinate it with fresh gratted ginger, lime jus and skin, sweet soya sauce, fleur de sel and olive oil.

We sometimes add a spoon of caster sugar- not always- depends of my mood. (Humm...., the Michelin inspector may not like that- maybe I should not write that!)

Then we cut the tofu in thick cubes and put it at the bottom of the soup plate.

We pour the soup over the tofu infront of our guest.

The sweet pea mixed with the soft texture of the tofu is quite special. Then comes the bite from the ginger and lime.

Perfect with peas.


 

*

Monday, June 07, 2010

Bloody Mondays-


This is how to treat an asparagus supplier on Monday.
Another Monday- another annoying day for supply.

Why can't we find anything of good qualities on Monday?

First, I went to Covent Garden Market to buy some flowers for the restaurant. I reached the market around 6am; despite the early hours, I did not see anything worth buying. The vegetation were so old- I was embarrassed to even look at them.

The fresh cut flowers were all half baked. No small tight Lillis; no bright and closed red roses; the eucalyptus branches I bought last week were all gone- the only things left were not worth adding to a compost.

So I spent a small £20 and embarrassed myself in front of the restaurant staff with some really bad cut flowers. I need to go back this week-annoying!

Then in the kitchen, I noticed that our Asparagus suppliers sent us the thinnest asparagus he could find! At our last meeting, he told me that we were VIP customers and we shall always get the fattest and tender asparagus- rubbish!!!! Only VIP when it comes to charging us!

Fish was crap; meat was just OK; fruits were just alright... not good enough for what we are trying to do here.

The problem is that we can't hide ourselves behind bad ingredients. If the ingredient is not first class, our food looks crap- really crap- and tastes old. Shall we close on Mondays?

I know that tomorrow, all of our suppliers will have plenty of great stuff- freshly picked the day before.


Food on Monday is freshly picked from Friday (if you are lucky!).Crap!






Sunday, June 06, 2010

Late Spring....


It is such an exciting time of the year for me in terms of ingredients.

Spring is probably my most inspiring season.

Last week, for example, I had the sweetest beetroots of the year so far. We peel them, we quickly pan fry them in olive oil and cook them with water for almost 7 minutes.

I am always very tempted to serve them just like that- perfectly cooked with nothing more than their own taste- but you have to be very brave to do that. I am not convinced that our customers will feel excited by the view of a plate filled with beetroot.

So we "play" a bit with them= some red chard leaves tossed with an aged Balsamic dressing- maybe some deep fried tofu & artichokes to give a crunchy contrast to the dish....

I am hoping that broad beans will be better this week than last. They tend to be slightly flourish and hard to cook lately.

Radishes are perfect at the moment, so we serve them as soon as guest seat down with some basil relish, butter and salt.

Asparagus were really up and down this week- some big , some too thin. We are seeing the end of the season and I doubt that we will have some from tomorrow. It is quite sad to see the end of an ingredient- I have to wait for another 10 months for some good green asparagus now!


Strawberries were delicious this week (from Secretts farm). Carlos has created and exceptional dessert with them.

A base of very fragile chocolate biscuit Breton topped with a light sweet wine jelly.

Then he puts the strawberries (room temperature) and a light coconut cream/mousse.

To finish the dish, he adds a little translucent crust over it.

When he first told me about this dish, I told him that he was " hors sujet". I didn't want him to play around too much with the strawberries. Most of all I didn't want to see a dollop of coconut cream in my pudding.

Despite my comments, he developed the pudding and asked me to try it.

And then..... i thought to myself- what a wanker I can be.!

I was so wrong. His composition was perfect. in terms of taste nothing took over the subtle taste of the strawberries. The ingredients are just complementing the deep flavour of the red fruit.

Texture wise, it is perfect. The balance crunchy, tender, soft and crispy is very clear across the dish. Nothing is too hard or too soft. The simple weight of the spoon breaks everything without effort. I was blown away. Well done Carlos.

Also, his Campari granité with grapefruits and lime juice was out of this world!

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

Voila!


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 á 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.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Chairs & dust

My worst fear, when I started planning the restaurant, was to receive the chairs after the opening day. I remenber reading stories about restaurant opening date which had to be delayed becasue the chairs had not arrived! Our timing is very tight so when I ordered the chairs I made sure that they will be delivered on 4th May.
This morning, a massive truck pulled in front of my house- the driver from Tcheque Republic told Clive that he had 800+kilos of chairs to be delivered at my home adress! wrong adress and 1 week too early- flooring is not finished at the restaurant- the carpenter is still sanding; dust is everywhere....

So the driver drove all the way to Soho and delivered the chairs.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Neighbours and smell


There is something really particular about Nicoise cuisine; it is very colourful- very vegetable based and also full of dry herbs.
The flavours are very powerful and release an exquisite smell.
Sadly our new neighbour can't stand food smell.
One would wonder why they decided to rent a flat above a restaurant.
Anyway, the gentlemen living above the restaurant stormed into the dining room last night and abused Max in front of our costumers! Not very cool in a full restaurant!
I guess there are going to be some busy lawyers in Nice.

News from the front...

Streets around the restaurant have been emptied by the red shirts and the army.


The usual non stop traffic is now non existent.


La Table de Tee has been closed for 2 days and we have had to ask most of the staff not to comeback until the area is safe.




The other parts of Bangkok are full of army personnel checking who is doing what.

I read in this morning newspaper that the prime minister had rejected the offer of a dissolution; the army is going to end all of this with gun.

We all expect carnage in the streets of Bangkok and that makes me really sad.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Piercing & Tattoo

Our wine cellar is starting to look good I have to say. Most of our cave du jour will be on display in what used to be Lindsay House Chef's Table. Our guests will be able to pick their own wine from our list direct from our cellar. Also, we got a huge piece of marble to put in the middle of the cellar, so we can use the room as a bar as well.
Most of our future wine suppliers have been coming to the restaurant for the last few days. They all share our hopes and are very supportive- above my expectations.
Meanwhile, Damian is busy trying to create a relaxing and chic dining room. He has also started interviewing our future waiters & waitresses. Recruiting for a restaurant in Soho is nothing to compare with recruiting for a restaurant in Pimlico. Our staff need to reflect Soho diversity and also its eccentricity- so get ready for a few piercing & tattoos.

Tears & Bombs

After spending most of my morning trying to find ways to defend myself with my lawyer, I came to the conclusion that the rest of the day will be just business as usual.
The tough hours were behind me.

I walked Oxford street, passed Liberty and walked back to the restaurant via the side Soho streets. The sun was shinning and the sky started to look, again, like a congested sky motorway!

When I stepped into my office, Gerard was intensively looking at the computer; he saw me and told me:
Did you hear what happened in Bangkok?
I didn't know was he was talking about;
Bombs have exploded at Saladeng Station! 3 dead-100 injured.
Saladeng station is exactly where our restaurant in Bangkok is situated!
Gerard and I bought a restaurant for our protégé chef- Tee Kachornklin- called La Table de Tee.
It is probably the best restaurant in the Saladeng area and despite having been open for just under a year, business is really good.
Last week Tee told us that the red shirts had started to move closer to Sillom road and saladeng road. We did not worry, thinking that they will be deterred by the army. Wrong!
Red shirts are fighting for the restoration of democracy. The current government is fighting for the end of corruption. 2 good causes. 2 sides with conviction.
Sadly behind each side there is the interest of a few minorities pulling strings!
Now the King needs to step in or blood is going to flow in the streets of Bangkok... and our restaurant will never survive the chaos.

Not a bad day is it?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A day to forget

Wow, things are getting hot here. I thought I took over L.....y H....e- the buidling- trademark name, so can't use the name! So it will be Gauthier Soho

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Menu dilemna

I have started to finalise what the menu is going to look like- I don't want big menus that open in 2 with 4 pages to read and millions of things to decide from.
Soho is no Pimlico and I must reflect what Soho is all about in my menu.
It should be straight forward, relax and to the point- without the fuss.
Price wise, It should reflect my feeling toward gastronomic restaurant:
I just detest restaurant where I feel I am being overcharged. I think that having a Tasting menu for £75 or up is just daylight robbery! All our suppliers will be helping us to succeed when we start- we must pass the savings to our customers.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

First trial---exciting



On wednesday we all went to Highgate cemetery to organise a pop up dining room for Courvoisier. The house we were cooking in was overlooking the cemetery and was surrounded by gigantic trees- there was quite a lot of mediteranen pine trees wich really surprised me.


The kitchen was super designed and was a real pleasure to work in.


Courvoisier was organising a special tasting menu with a food & Cognac pairing of dishes I created for Courvoisier.





The organisation was very slick; there was a bar in the kitchen where a very clever Canadian girl was mixing cocktails- the Saint Tropez cooler is exceptionnal= Ginger beer + Lime + Cognac


The meal went very well- if slightly under pressured in order to make sure that every single plate would be identical.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Builders and dust

The dust gets everywhere. In my hair, my clothes, my nails, my computer....

I can't wait for the day when I will see the back of this dust squad. They seem to love it. They sand and sand and sand all day long...I need to be strong; I know that it will soon be a bad memory.

Meanwhile, the building work is coming along nicely. First floor dining room almost finished- ground floor needs another day of painting; cellar needs to be build (ouch! that takes a long time)- private dining rooms need to make feel even more private; toilets need to be started....etc

We are not open yet!

Gerard is back from his holiday and I feel a lot better. I am kind of weird when he is not around.We tend to talk to each other on the phone at least 10 times a day- and this has been going on for the last 12 years. I can see much clearer when he is around.
He only had 2 hours break today, but he came to see me at the restaurant; gave me his point of view on different issues and we talked about strategy. Sometimes his intelligence really impress me- and that is quite reassuring.

I am going home early tonight.
I was out last night to the Streetsmart party at The Groucho Club- too much Champagne is bad for me. Good party and very nice & chatty people.
After that we went for supper at Rosa's (again); it was packed and I was really thrilled for them. They deserve to be full= good food; gracious service and Thai smile. What more do you need in a restaurant? Oh! and the price is still ridiculously low.....

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Pad Thai & Macaroons



What a contrast this day has been.


I first had to pick up a very original art deco mirror for our private dining room- got stuck in traffic jam at Angel and lost 1 hour of my precious time!


Had to rush back to Romilly street to meet our fire system prevention rep. Westminster is very strict those days and I was requested to install an extremely sophisticated fire Alarm system- our building was build in 1721, so I guess that they are quite cautious.


My phone couldn't stop ringing meanwhile- small equipment to reorder- wine glasses to decide on supplier- outside sign.... I think I need help.


Clive, very courageously, came to start putting together my very cheap office suit from Ikea.


Now I know why it is so cheap- the time you spent putting it together would cost an absolute fortune if it was paid by the hour- even more if you were in France! Clive cost me a lunch at this new Thai restaurant called Rosa-Soho. My vegetarian Pad Thai was delicious and Clive's Pad sewu (excuse my thai) was great too. £13 for 2 including soft drinks- cheaper than Pret.


Went to John Lewis to check out some fabrics- came back to the restaurant and spent a long time on the phone with Carlos & Gerard. One on the Isle of Wight, the other one in Chayapun (north east Thailand)= Thanks Skype for making those 2 calls the same price £0.


Carlos is in great form those days- the presence of his girlfriend must have an impact on his mood.


Gerard is slowly baking in Thailand- the heat is unbearable and the red shirt demonstration had to make him cancel his trip to Bangkok. Pity. I told him, he should have stay here with me! Miss you Gerard.




Went back home, read a weird story to Arthur about taste bud and told him to fall asleep fast- otherwise he couldn't wake up in the morning.


Tonight is macaroon night from Laduree cookbook.


David told me that the recipe really work- without cooking the sugar!!!! I had to try.


Photo attached- my macaroons looked like deflated Pillsbury dough boy-don't try at home.


Good night.








Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Back after easter week end

Wow, it has been quite a week end! My sister, her husband and her 2 children came to visit us. It was quite weird for me to tell her that my partnership with Roussillon had ended. My sister found it quite hard to believe; after 12 years... It is a bit of a waste.
I told her that usually chefs stay 3 to 4 years in a restaurant and then move on.
I have spent the day trying to install my HP printer- without success. I also tried to design a mini-bar for our tasting room; It reminded me that a few years ago I designed a bar for Roussillon- we ordered it but was never delivered!
The carpet has been laid down in our offices and I have started to put my wonderful Ikea offices.
I have divided the offices in 2= 1 creative office where we will, hopefully develop ideas, recipes, products.... for Lindsay House, Voyageur Nissart & La Table de Tee.
The other office is the account- they should never be mixed together.
I'll take some pictures tomorrow.
Barcelona- Arsenal tonight! I need to go.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

More Antics....

I have spent another week visiting antic dealers in London; I really want the restaurant not to look as if everything had been bought brand new yesterday.It is important that the furniture looks like the building: old but very well looked after.
I have found some really fascinating stuff: Silver forks for Sardines only; serving trays in silver exclusively for white asparagus (!); gold platted carving knives...
The highlight of my finding was a set of beautiful Escoffier dish (for main course garnish)- they were more than 80 years old but looked perfect to me. I bought the whole set.
I have also managed to convince one the antic dealer to show me his collection of German coffee cups- I have already bought the tea cups but he was really reluctant to show me the coffee cups that matched the tea cups. Wednesday morning after 11am only- this German guy can read me like a book- Grrrrrrr....

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Back from the East

A week since being back but I just start to feel normal again.

After a few days, I felt unwell- then I felt really bad- fever and all... A bad flu!

Back to normal now and ready to get on with what's ahead! One minor bad news when I came back: Apparently my Drinking Licence application was not properly put together by my solicitor; Westminster returned it- we had to redo it; 2 weeks delay. Rather than moving in to start work on 20th March; it will have to be early April- My solicitor didn't do his job properly- I make sure to bring this issue when he shows me his bill!

The leak at the restaurant did not seem to have been fully repaired, so I am chasing the agent for repair.

I have found some amazing plates at Islington Antic market; the perfect plate for our Louis XV pudding. I also discovered the most gorgeous 1940's coffee cups- I bought them all.


 


 

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Dishes from Soup restaurant Singapore






Tofu & Cucumber








Chicken & Ginger dish at Soup restaurant- Singapore










Lunch at Marsilling MRT-

2 lunchs in row in a small shop near Marsilling train station. Roast or steamed chicken are the only things on offers.

My steam chicken is soft and warm; the garnish of pickle cucumber is crunchy yet juicy- the fresh chilly paste doesn't burn and brings a lovely settle kick to the dish.

I don't know how they cook the rice- I suppose they steam it and add some sesame seed oil at the end- not sure. I must try.

Chicken consommé is clear, light and served with some chopped spring onions and coriander leaves. Delicious- as good as any consommé you'll get in a classic gastronomic French restaurant only slight difference is the price: the lunch is S$2.50 per person (£1.10); you know which one is my favourite!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Back to Singapore

Air Asia flight leaving Bangkok at 16.45- Landing Singapore 20.05
The plane is packed- Anais is a nightmare, she can't stop screaming unless we let her run around in the plane- that is what we do and she comes back with a massive bruise under her eye! She now can't stop crying-it seems as everyone in the plane is looking at us.
Now Arthur drops half of its orange juice on the man sitting next to him and they both fall asleep 10 minutes before landing! 2 hours of hell- but it makes good memory!
Singapore is steaming as always. The moment you walk out of the airport- you feel like if someone has forgotten to close to steam oven door! It is 9pm and temperature is around 32degrees. I wish I was in London... well maybe not.

Clive mother has cooked for us tonight- something simple, as she puts it.
It looks like a feast to me.
Sauteed vegetables with garlic and sliced abalone
Steamed fish with lotus roots, spring onion, little chilly and fish broth
Casserole of very soft pork meat, mushrooms, dark soya broth
White & brown rice..

There was also a brown bean soup with chinese herbs- but I was too full to have some.
Everything was masterfully done- but a mother always cook like that when she puts love in her cooking!

Monday, February 22, 2010



I hear stories of restaurant successfully opening without the help of a PR firm. Does it really make a big difference?

I guess that when a PR company takes you on board, they will first try to understand your product; try to understand what you are selling and also will try to understand what your customers want to remember you for. Not an easy task- Lot's of listening!

I haven't yet decided if I will be using a PR company- I am going to think about it for another 3 to 4 days. I have met quite a lot of them- they all have their qualities. Let's think....


Lats night Clive & I went to a very trendy restaurant- very near to La Table de Tee- called EAT ME. The restaurant has been established there for over 15 years and it is one of our local competitor. Eat me has been recently refurbished in dark cement tone- with some modern pictures trail of Bangkok- dark lighting and waiters dressed in black. I loved the deco.

The waiters were friendly and quite good looking- that helps!


The table are well spaced and there is a large sitting area on the terrace- we didn't seat outside;mosquitoes love my skin tone!

The menu is exciting with a mix of Spanish/Australian/Italian food items.

We ordered a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand- delicious.

I asked for some quail eggs with a Spanich dressing as amuse-gueule- they had just run out.

We ordered some fillet of anchovies marinated in lemon and olive oil- they only arrived after our starters but were delicious and very fresh.

Clive ordered Japanese oysters cooked with paprika and Italian pancetta- delicious but very expensive- 870baht + tax + service charge= £20 for a starter- not exactly a terrific deal

I had sardines cooked in vine leaves, pomegranate- served with a brown puree- couldn't tell what it was. The sardines were overcooked- the vine leaf was useless and the few pomegranate grain did not bring anything to the dish. The sardines at Voyageur Nissart in Nice are much better- and they cost half of what I paid last night.

I had Kadgeree with prawns and marinated salmon- it was interesting.

Clive had red snapper with a Marsala curry (!); much better than mine-

Not memorable food wise- but the ambiance and decor were really good.

The only thing I would say is that., the restaurant did not have any Thai customers- at La Table de Tee-75% of our customers are Thai. Does it mean that we are not competing for the same guests?


Our bill came to 4500 baht (£90)- not cheap at all for Bangkok.



It is our last day in Bangkok before returning to Singapore. Arthur & Anais are going to be sad to leave Bangkok. They had such a great time with their mother;It was also the first time that Anais said "Mamam" with a very strong French accent!


Arthur & Anais will be back for the next school holiday.

I don't know when I will be next in Bangkok- They don't need me anymore here!

I can concentrate on Romilly street & Voyageur Nissart in Nice....

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Delicious Dim Sum en famille

I have just returned from an amazing Dim Sum. We went to Crystal Jade, a good looking restaurant in Siam Paragon. The place was full- filled with rich Chinese Thai- having lunch en famille.

Dragon Castle is my favourite Chinese restaurant in London; their Dim Sum is exceptional but the one I've just had today was much better. Didn't think it could have been possible.

Everything I had was perfect; the thing that really marked me was the quality of the dough; rice flour dough is not exactly easy to master- it usually turn out too tough (dry-not enough water/ or too wet and you can't control you dough); the one used today had the most exquisite balance: Soft without being chewy; light- meaning that it must have been a nightmare to prepare!

First came the Chinese puff pastry-piping hot with a meat and honey filling-perfect, light, a little sticky with some roasted sesame seeds over it. Arthur couldn't stop eating them! Then pork rib boiled, served with a homemade chilly dressing and thick soya sauce. Didn't look appetizing but I think that it is the all idea- slightly peasant food with the right kick from chilly.

Followed: A Chinese gyosa- ravioli lightly pan-fried- filled with roughly chopped green chards with shallots & a little mince pork= Divine. I remember 15 years ago, at Alain Ducasse restaurant in Monaco, we used to pan fried cepe mushroom ravioli- today's interpretation of Gyosa Chinese style was a masterpiece of taste and texture. There was a slight resistance in your mouth from the pan fried ravioli skin; then came the softness of the chard- the crunchiness of shallots.... Just perfect combination and much better than Ducasse's one.

A plate of roasted duck- soft meat- yet juicy- skin was masterfully done. I have seen Chinese chef preparing the duck skin. They make a hole in the duck neck and blow very strongly with their mouth; the skin comes out of its layer. They quickly deep fry it. The skin is crispy and very, very thin! I recommend the opening of Eat, drink, man, women to understand it....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zs5WiddD7i0

The rest of the meal was also very good- especially the scallops & spinach dumplings.

I just wish I could cook Chinese food like that.


 

Friday, February 19, 2010

Thai Odyssey, delicious Green Curry and other Thai delicacies...

It was nice to be able to chill out by the pool with the children today; Arthur still refuses to go underwater but his swimming technique is coming along nicely. The weather was quite hot today and the sun was pretty strong. I have been rubbing myself with some 50+ sun protection cream but I managed to get slightly sunburned on my right shoulder-grrrrrr...

I received a phone call today about a flooding in the ground floor dining room of Lindsay House. A flooding between exchange and completion is not exactly ideal. I knew that there was some sort of issue regarding the flat roof in the back of the restaurant. I suspected that water could infiltrate via the air conditioning unit. The landlord confirmed that the leak had been repaired; clearly not. Not sure who will have to pay to fix this. Obviously, I am not going to abort the deal due to the flood; and I have no right to do so. It is just a bit annoying. Let's get it fixed and let's move on.

I had two very good meals today. Both time at the same restaurant= Oakleaf- Naratiwas 24

My crab fired rice for lunch was perfect; juicy, not sticky and with plenty of lime juice over it. I could have eaten a tonne of it-it was as light as a cloud....

Then for dinner I had some steamed meat parcels- soft pork meat with coriander, red chilli, and nuts... served with a soya sauce dressing. The parcel had been done on the day; they were soooo light. I followed with snow fish & spring onion- crunchy onion mixed with the fatty fish flesh- there was a broth served with it- probably rice vinegar + fish sauce + leek+ sugar + soya sauce (again) and fish head consommé. That was very powerful in taste but quite refined texture wise. My main course of Chicken green curry was divine; the green curry sauce was clearly made out of fresh coconut milk- that is the big difference I think with Green curry you can find in London. I did not feel any heaviness in the dish- green curry can be overwhelmingly rich; this one was like a light velouté- the meat was moist and the baby Thai aubergines were not at all bitter. Now I understand this dish a bit better. I have a long way before I understand the entire Thai Food repertoire- I have the rest of my life- no rush; my children who are half Thai have, hopefully, thru their mother a predisposition to understand and enjoy the cuisine of Thailand.

With my silly French roots, I must break a lot of preconception. I wish I had been exposed to other food earlier in my life.

I also, took the children to see Avatar at the IMAX. Another powerful dish was served to my eyes!

Good Night.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Diner at La Table de Tee

Because Tee had been working with us for 6 years, we decided with Gerard to help set up his own restaurant. I came to Bangkok in October & November 2009 to help him with the refurb of the restaurant, the search of suppliers, deciding on colours of walls, shape of plates...etc

I had to leave early November and Gerard came for the opening week. Since then, it has been quite busy. La Table de Tee has been reviewed by many newspapers and magazines- they have all been very good. A full page in Bangkok Post was the highlight of our exposure.

The restaurant can only seat 18 and it is a chef's table concept- so no A la Carte- Tasting Menu for everyone. I went to eat, for the first time, with Clive & Aubrey (my son's former teacher when he was at the New Sathorn International School in Bangkok).

First course: A very Thai salad of prawns & green chard with a rice vinegar dressing and some Sesame seed oil. It was cold and refreshing as a first course. Then we had a clear crustacean consommé infused with lemon grass and lime leaves- a little spicy & as always a dash of white pepper. That was quite a dish- I thought that the balance of flavours was perfect- It was very Thai. Delicious! The following course was Potato gnocchi, rolled in brown butter and served with a green "salsa" and some courgettes. Good but not memorable- rather safe- taste and texture were very good but I wasn't blown away by the composition of the dish. That was followed by a perfectly cooked seabream, served with some steamed Thai kind of celery and a fish reduction. It was well executed but a bit boring. Again, no ingredient really came up punching my taste bud. I felt Tee was playing a bit too safe. The main course was a lightly breadcrumb chicken breast; served with broccoli and mange tout- again quite boring despite the meat being well cooked. I didn't see any chicken jus reduction and was quite surprised by that. After spending so many years with us, I would imagine that Tee ahd understood that meat jus & consommé were the basis of any good cuisine. Clearly he forgot this lesson. – A refreshing Yogurt ice cream was served- then came the real let down of the evening= the Tee's chocolate delice. It is meant to be a dacquoise base with pralin & white chocolate & topped with chocolate mousse and covered with glacage Paradis. It wasn't like that at all; Tee changed the recipe and that was a real disaster. The bases was just a dry chocolate genoise topped with a not cold enough chocolate mousse and covered with a not reduced enough glacage paradis. We were then served the petits Fours: Delicious marshmallow despite the fact that they had no taste whatsoever; the pineapple macaroon were embarrassingly too cooked.

Oh! I forgot to mention the bread: delicious with garlic.

White wine was a 2006 Gewürztraminer- a bit too sweet for me. The red was the delicious Unfiltered Thai Syrah from Asoke Valley 2006. This wine is exceptional.

I talked to Tee after the meal. For 750 baht, this meal was probably the best you could buy in Bangkok. I thought that Tee really needed to trust his instinct and be a lot more adventurous with his cooking. He agreed with me.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What a week it has been; at one point I thought that we would never sign. Then on Friday, I received a call from my lawyer saying that we had exchanged contract.

The only thing that can stop us now is Westminster council not granting us a new Licence.


 

Retrospectively, I feel that the deal has been very smooth and I am glad that I can start planning the opening of my restaurant.


 

12 years at Roussillon is a long time but I could have gone on for another 25 years.

It is a real pity that my business partners did not share my enthusiasm, hopes and desire for the future. They were too busy planning their own exit strategies. It took a long time for me to realise that but it is never too late.

So I could go on and develop on how I have been taken for a foul; how I have been taken for ride; how I have been lied to; how they lured me into thinking that they were truly interested in taking Roussillon to another level....That was just bullshit!

It is better not to look back- I have learned from my naivety and can move on.


 

My timing is very straight forward- the restaurant is going to open in exactly 77 days= 4th May 2010.

77 days to concretise my thoughts. I have a very clear idea of how I want my restaurant to look like.

I also know too well that he has to be THE restaurant I would love to visit on a regular basis. I always think that if you are true to your feelings, patrons will feel comfortable to visit you.

I'll develop on the real identity of the restaurant in later blogs.


 

Currently, I am in Bangkok, visiting my restaurant (La Table de Tee) and enjoying a bit of free time with Clive (my partner) and our 2 children- Arthur 4 & Anais 18months old.