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Cork Independent

Lifestyle & Leisure

Cooking great food isn’t enough to create a great restaurant

Wednesday, 20th February, 2019 5:02pm

I am currently addicted to ‘My Million Pound Menu’ on BBC2.

Fred Sirieix, who many might know as the front of house in ‘First Dates’ in the UK, is the host of the series that gives hopeful chefs the opportunity to pitch their food idea to inventors who might or not will invest.

It is described as a mix of ‘Masterchef’ and ‘Dragon’s Den’ and is now in its second series. Basically, a chef or a team have an idea and are given the chance to pitch against other teams with the same dream.

Last week was the grab-and-go week with a focus on fast lunch service. Three teams cooked and pitched against each other with the Tiger Bite team winning and getting the chance to spend two days in ‘a brand new 50 seater restaurant, to prove that their food, menus, pricing, service, team-management and business plans are worth the big money investment they are asking for’ according to the BBC.

Investors are high profile people from the food industry, some who have won Michelin stars like Atul Kochhar and franchise experts from chains like Domino Pizza, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Deliveroo to throw in just a few.

The focus on each show seems to be casual eating style. Don’t get me wrong, I do like simple food well made. I don’t need truffles or olive oil hand-pressed by descendants of Adonis but I like to get more than a burger, no matter how high stacked it is and handsomely priced.

Another pet hate is having to go to a counter and choosing from a board above my head and then trying to find a table with a wonky tray in my hand.

I know, I can hear you – yes, I like to get table service when I am out, even for lunch and if that makes me a spoilt girl, then so be it.

But back to the show, it is not enough to cook great food, the pitching team also needs to sit with the investors and explain their business plan.

And that’s where it can get terribly wrong. Just because you are passionate about food and a damn fine cook, doesn’t mean that you will also be a successful restaurateur.

That’s one reason some of the most successful chefs actually have a silent partner who does the number crunching for them. As with everything, there are exceptions to this rule but in general, you will need someone who makes room for the chef to be creative and not be muffled by the dirty work of counting beans.

On another note, it is sad to see that Seamus O’Connell is closing the Ivory Tower soon to move to Killarney for a new venture in the former Chapter 40 premises.

It’s a loss to Cork but I wish him well. Let’s hope that a new creative chef is taking over the Ivory Tower venue – it is quirky and homely, it just needs to be freshened up.

Let’s hope for the best.


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