Mixologist wins chance to open restaurant with Raymond Blanc

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Raymond blanc, Opening, Bbc

JJ and James will open a restaurant with Raymond Blanc
JJ and James will open a restaurant with Raymond Blanc
Mixologist JJ Goodman and his friend and business partner James Hopkins are given the chance to open a restaurant with Raymond Blanc after winning the third series of the BBC Two show The Restaurant

Mixologist JJ Goodman and his friend and business partner James Hopkins have been announced as the latest pair to open a restaurant with Raymond Blanc after winning the third series of the BBC Two show The Restaurant last night.

The pair, directors at the London Cocktail Club, beat eight other couples to the prize. They said they were 'over the moon' about the win and will now work with Blanc and business partners Sarah Willingham and David Moore to open a restaurant based around their concept of serving sharing dishes with cocktails.

"To be opening a restaurant with Raymond Blanc is a dream come true and we hope we can live up to his expectations and those of industry experts Sarah and David," they said.

In last night's final Goodman and Hopkins went head to head with Christopher Hackett and Nathan Gooding to cater at a private dinner at Castle Hill – the home of the Earl and Countess of Arran. The pairs had to source the food, prepare and dress the table and between them cook a six-course banquet.

Winning criteria

Despite Goodman's lack of experience in the kitchen, Blanc saw the pair's potential and was attracted to their 'different concept'.

He said: "What I've seen in each of you is that resilience, that loveliness, that complete engagement and I love to see that.

"Of course I've seen weaknesses. I did expect it. I was looking for potential, I was not looking for a finished article. It takes sometimes 10 years to shape up a true professional. One of you has got something, something which kept you consistently in the competition. It is the idea which truly excites you. And even in the final, concept saved you."

Willingham said she had been won over by Goodman and Hopkins' enthusiasm and positivity. "It's a very difficult environment out there at the moment, with restaurants closing every day. We needed to find a couple with business sense, drive and bags of positivity," she said: "JJ and James were the contestants who remained positive, no matter what was thrown at them."

Last year's winners Michele English and Russell Clements opened their venture with Blanc - The Cheerful Soul at the Hare & Hounds in Marlow​ in June after spending five months training with the teams at Brasserie Blanc.

Related topics: People, Restaurants

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Good luck to them. We…

Posted by Los Gatos,

Good luck to them. We do not begrudge JJ and James their win - we only feel sad for all the thousands of other serious couples who would have made better use of this opportunity. We speak from experience. 

In April 2006, we opened Los Gatos Spanish Tapas Bar (www.losgatos.co.uk)      in Swindon, with no professional experience, just a love of food and a passion for sharing it.  Nearly four years later, we are rated No. 1 restaurant in Swindon on Trip Advisor. Most importantly, we are happy and proud to have created a place to eat decent simple food cooked from fresh ingredients with passion - and that enough people enjoy it and come back for more

If you want to read our full story, you can see it on our blog http://losgatosswindon.blogspot.com/2009/12/los-gatos-full-story.html

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What a complete joke..... …

Posted by Anonymous,

What a complete joke..... 

I have just watched the final and am disgusted those floppy haired idiots won. We all love Raymond for his high standards and love of food and these jokers seemed to get through by blagging and making cocktails. If the series was called "The Bar" then fair enough!!!  

Who in their right mind would go to their restaurant, when he cannot even cook risotto!!!  And it has really changed my opnion of Raymond Blanc!! I certainly won't be watching the next series!!

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Why!? WHY!? Why!?......…

Posted by Anonymous,

Why!? WHY!? Why!?...... Maybe because the producers of the show chose a group of contestents that basically had no clue about catering or hospitality(!) presumabaly in the name of entertainment!! The result are the two boys who managed to go all the way through a cooking and customer service show without actually doing either!! If they were been marked on high 5's and bigging themselves up then i could understand them winning. Good luck Raymond !!!

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