Jason Atherton on ambitions, Gordon Ramsay and why Social Eating House is an investment in talent

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Pollen street, Gordon ramsay

In an exclusive video interview filmed at his newest restaurant Social Eating House, chef-restaurateur Jason Atherton has spoken about his ambitions for his growing empire and revealed how he has learnt from Gordon Ramsay as he hands more power to number two Paul Hood.

Closely following in the footsteps of Little Social, which Atherton opened on Pollen Street last month,​ Social Eating House celebrates its official launch today.

The 70-cover bistro-style restaurant complete with a chef's table and a 'secret' upstairs bar is the third venue in the capital for the chef. However it is a partnership with Hood who has taken the lead in designing the venue, the concept and the menu - he will also be heading up the team cooking in the basement kitchen on Poland Street.

Cool restaurant groups

Hood was until recently Atherton's head chef at flagship one Michelin-star restaurant Pollen Street Social. Speaking to BigHospitality in a joint interview with his number two, the 41-year-old said his latest venture in the capital was more of an investment in talent than a financial investment.

"I can make enough money out of Pollen Street Social to see me through for the rest of my life because I don't live a lavish lifestyle," he explained. "I am doing this because I love running restaurants. It is kind of cool for a bunch of young kids to hopefully have one of London's coolest restaurant groups - that is my side plan.

"But the first and foremost plan is to have a relationship with Paul where he can grow and become almost what I became at Maze for Gordon Ramsay. 

"We made money out of Pollen Street Social - are we going to put it in the bank? No because we would make 10p a year. Would we set Paul up in his own business? Yes of course we would because otherwise he would go somewhere else. It is time for him to do his own thing and I recognise that," he said.

Thanks Gordon

Atherton spent nearly a decade with Ramsay leading the team which launched Maze in Grosvenor Square. He said he remained indebted to the celebrity chef for the lessons he had learnt which he was now hoping to pass on to Hood and others.

"Gordon gave me an amazing platform for me to grow into who I am today - whether you call that Frankenstein's monster or not I don't know. Every day I wake up, I thank Gordon for the business lessons I learnt from that company for what we run today," he revealed.

"I have tried to take everything I learnt at Maze and break it down to make it easier to digest for these guys so they can use those experiences to do their own places. You have got to make sure that you help them, nurture them bring them along but at the same time you can't hold their hand - they have got to go through the hardships to understand the benefits."

Atherton recently revealed to Restaurant magazine that as well as his overseas businesses he was planning to work with a leading hotel group in the UK and with Restaurant Associates at the Tower 42 restaurant.

He told BigHospitality he did not hold specific goals or aims he was looking to meet - he said he thought he could possibly invest in one more London restaurant but was planning to focus his time in the next three years on other projects and on his 'baby' - Pollen Street Social.

"Journalists say 'are you spreading yourself too thin' and it is like 'blah, blah, blah'. I would love Pollen Street Social to be two stars, I would like Paul to win a star here, I would like Little Social to win a star but will they? I don't know - that is irrelevant to the business."

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