The year kicked off with a fanfare of Michelin stars for the industry, most notably for Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, which became Britain’s fourth three Michelin-starred restaurant. The Ledbury was the only new two-star restaurant in the list, while 18 establishments, four of them pubs, picked up their first Michelin stars.
Gordon Ramsay’s troubles
It looked to be a triumphant year for GRH, what with the reopening of Petrus in Kinnerton Street and the Savoy Grill at the Mayfair hotel. But come April and one of Ramsay’s most promising protégés Jason Atherton announced his departure from the group to pursue solo venture Pollen Street Social. His exit was swiftly followed by James Durrant in July and Angela Hartnett in October. Come November he was also without a chief executive after firing father-in-law Chris Hutcheson, who proceeded to take the newly reopened Petrus with him. The year hasn’t ended so badly after all, GRH managed to grasp back the Mayfair restaurant after a “commercial settlement” with Hutcheson.
Noma tops El Bulli
Months after Ferran Adria announced the evolution of El Bulli from a three Michelin-starred restaurant into a culinary academy, the restaurant that had held the World’s Best Restaurant accolade for four consecutive years finally fell from its top spot. Rene Redzepi’s groundbreaking Denmark restaurant Noma was crowned the new global king of cuisine on the S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
Scores on the Doors gets revamp and national roll-out
Escaping the Government’s quango cull in July, the Food Standards Agency proceeded with the roll out of the National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, officially launching at Bluewater shopping centre in November. With the aim of replacing the many confusing hygiene rating systems, including the star-rating Scores on the Doors, with a single, standard system, the FSA hopes to roll out the FHRS to 167 local authorities by July 2011.
Pierre Koffmann returns to The Berkeley
2010 marked the year that Gordon Ramsay Holdings parted company with The Berkeley for good. Boxwood Café closed its doors in April, and was swiftly replaced by Pierre Koffmann’s much anticipated return to the hotel with Koffmann’s, at the original location of his esteemed former restaurant La Tante Claire.
One of the biggest trends of the year has to be the pop-up restaurant, kick started by Pierre Gagnaire’s Sketch back in November 2009. By the end of 2010, pop-up restaurants had been erected by the Masterchef 2009 finalists; patissier Claire Clark at Harvey Nichols; Jason Atherton; numerous Michelin-starred chefs on the London Eye; the First Restaurant Group; restaurateur Brenhan Magee; and Rebecca Mascarenhas, in aid of Action Against Hunger’s Haiti appeal.
The Sustainable Restaurant Association launched in March with promises of helping its members produce more sustainable businesses. It launched with 85 members already on board, including Leon, Carluccio’s, and Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, and hoped to attract 1,000 by the year-end. However, with just 500 now signed up, the association is well short of achieving its aim. That hasn’t stopped it from predicting a stable of 1500 members by the end of next year. Viva sustainability!
The great voucher debate
Restaurant vouchers – the savour of the casual dining market or the bane of restaurant operators’ lives? In April, Britain’s love affair with the restaurant voucher was showing no sign of waning, with numbers up 25 per cent on the previous year. By May, two-thirds of diners wouldn’t eat out without a voucher. But while the humble coupon has been instrumental in encouraging diners to spend, spend, spend, operators are constantly being warned that the practice will force them to permanently lower their prices. By December, operators were urged to offer rewards for customer loyalty instead.
Rose Gray dies
River Café founder Rose Gray sadly died at the age of 71 in March, following a long battle with cancer. The revered chef who opened the Thames Wharf restaurant in 1988 with partner Ruth Rogers, was loved by many a chef that walked through her doors, including Jamie Oliver, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Theo Randall. She died just months after receiving an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list, along with Rogers.
Nandos buys Clapham House
After experiencing a “volatile” trading environment over the past year, Clapham House Group, owner of the Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Real Greek brands, was sold to Nando’s Group in September for £30.4m. Capricorn Ventures, the private equity backer of Nando’s, said it would spend “significant investment and time” in reinvigorating the 53 UK GBKs and six Real Greeks.