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Kerridge, McHale, and banning tipping: The top 5 hospitality interviews of 2016

By Hannah Thompson , 22-Dec-2016
Last updated on 22-Dec-2016 at 11:33 GMT2016-12-22T11:33:12Z

The top 5 hospitality interviews of 2016

It's been a bumper year for interviews, as we chatted to some of the world's finest chefs, innovative restaurant owners, and most impressive hoteliers. Here's our pick of the top five...

Tom Kerridge on staff shortages, workplace morale, and culinary legend Alain Ducasse

Key quote: “People want life value not monetary value. At the bottom of the ladder, it’s young people who want travel and who are full of enthusiasm. You have to gear your business to provide that.”

Two-Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge is always a crowd-pleaser, not to mention a phenomenal chef.

With two pubs in this year’s Top 100 Restaurants at the National Restaurant Awards, 2016 also saw the chef supporting a key Hospitality Action campaign, presenting the BBC’s Bake Off: Crème de la Crème TV show, finishing a soon-to-be-released diet cookbook, AND cooking with Alain Ducasse (not to mention becoming a new dad), we chatted to Kerridge about everything and more, including staffing, food fashion, and his own favourite restaurants…

Aquavit chefs Emma Bengtsson and Henrik Ritzen on opening in London

Key quote: “People associate foraging and odd flavour combinations with Nordic cuisine, but that will not be a core element of Aquavit London.

"We will serve classic Nordic cooking but for the 21st century, and we hope people will want to come back and eat it time and time again.”

As the iconic New York restaurant Aquavit opened in London after three decades, Restaurant Magazine had questions. Speaking to both new head chef Henrik Ritzen and executive chef in New York – and only the second female chef in the US to win two Michelin stars ‒ Emma Bengtson, we talked Swedish chefs, Nordic trends, creating new dishes, and the challenges of crossing the pond.

Isaac McHale of The Clove Club on making The World's 50 Best Restaurants list

Key quote: “Success is about good old hard work. It’s about making people feel welcome and special without the formalities. It’s possible to have an exceptional restaurant experience without tablecloths and silverware.”

This year, The Clove Club, the restaurant from the powerhouse trio that is Isaac McHale, Daniel Willis, and Johnny Smith, took number 26 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, entering the prestigious roundup for the first time. We prised chef McHale away from the celebrations (and his kitchen) for a quick Q&A on the key to the restaurant’s success, mixing great cooking with informal dining, and how a place on the list affects business.

Peter Sanchez-Iglesias on the new-look Casamia

Key quote: “A lot of people would say a business is purely about making money, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. We want to know what we do is special.”

As Michelin-starred Casamia moved sites, from its too-small venue in Westbury-on-Trym to a new-look, higher-end Bristol space, Restaurant Magazine caught up with co-founder Peter Sanchez-Iglesias, to ask him about the choice to move, and how the family-owned-and-run business was coping after his former business partner and brother died of cancer late last year. He explained the family-centric approach, why they chose the new location, and why it’s important to reduce chefs’ working hours.

Harry Cragoe of The Gallivant on why banning tips is good for business

Key quote: “Happier members of staff will make for happier customers, and we’re already busier than we ever have been as a business…

"Hospitality is an incredibly hard business and I would say as a general rule that people are under-valued in the industry. If [businesses] want to retain the right calibre of people then they have to pay a fairer wage.”

Tipping was a hot topic this year, and for none more so than Harry Cragoe – owner of The Gallivant restaurant with rooms in Camber ‒ who was one of the first high-profile names in the UK to ban tips outright, instead paying staff a minimum of £9 per hour, regardless of age, or whether they work front- or back-of-house. Although he admits that the changes have affected the bottom line, customer response has been “100 per cent positive”.

We talked about the #toohiptotip campaign, and why Cragoe is ‘troubled by tronc’.

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