Speaking exclusively to BigHospitality following his involvement in last week’s live chocolate masterclass, the Scottish-born restaurateur stated that the new sites have already been secured, meaning he is still on track to achieve his goal for 10 in 8 – to operate 10 Michelin star restaurants within eight years.
“We’re just about to go live with restaurant number five and we’ve got number six coming on later in the year,” said Murchison. “We just consolidated the Group last year and didn’t open any new sites. But we’ve got both of these new venues secured already.
“One is not far away from here (speaking from Banbury, Oxfordshire), and one is by the sea. But I can’t say anything more just yet. I’m also looking at doing some refurbishment work at l’ortolan again this summer.
10 in 8 inspiration
Speaking of his initial decision to launch 10 in 8 with business partner Richard Pursey in 2008, Murchison explained: “It wasn’t a vanity project from my point of view. It was plain and simply responding to the needs of the team that work for me.
“My staff told me that they wanted to earn recognition in the industry, along with training and personal development and the possibility of achieving a Michelin star. And that’s where the inspiration came from.”
The other four restaurants within the 10 in 8 portfolio are:
- L’ortolan, Reading (Michelin star)
- Paris House, Bedfordshire (Michelin star)
- La Bécasse, Ludlow (lost Michelin star last year)
- The Angel, Dartmouth (no Michelin star, opened in January 2011)
Consistency and quality
Following the recent sale of Ilia restaurant in Chelsea and claims from the head chef at fine dining restaurant Blummyz that the newly opened site is failing to attract customers, Murchison – who has had stints at Claridges, Nobu and Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons - believes that high-end restaurants need to be focusing on consistency and a quality product if they are to succeed in the current climate.
“Top end, fine dining restaurants need to be providing an experience which you can’t replicate at home,” he added. “So if you’ve got a weak product, you will always be looking over your shoulder.
“None of my restaurants are in prime locations - I’ve got a restaurant in Reading, one that’s halfway up a mountain in-between Birmingham and Wales, and one in the outskirts of Milton Keynes – that’s hardly Kensington and Mayfair.
“I’d rather have a bus shelter in Slough serving Michelin-starred food than a sandwich bar in Kensington. People will go to a brilliant product - a brilliant location doesn’t guarantee you success if you’ve got a mediocre product.”
Alan Murchison starred alongside pastry chef Will Torrent in the live and interactive chocolate masterclass last Friday, in what was the first event of its kind for BigHospitality. A full re-run of the day’s action can be watched for free here