The Camelia head chef Steven Edwards, who won the show last December, spoke of the tremendous increase his restaurant has experienced since then: “Business is booming: we’ve tripled the amount of covers that we’d normally be doing, it’s fantastic. It has put us on the map.”
But you don’t need to win the show to reap the benefits of mass mediatisation. Caxton Grill head chef Adam Handling and The Adamson head chef and director Scott Davies, who both lost against Edwards in the final, also reported skyrocketing figures. “From a business perspective, it’s boomed dramatically with a 330% increase,” said Handling. Meanwhile at The Adamson, Davies counted 250 to 300 extra covers a week.
“The show has put our name out there, all of a sudden everybody all over Britain and even abroad knows who we are,” he said.
For Edwards, participating in a show as popular as MasterChef is a publicity coup difficult to match for untelevised restaurants. “It’s all very well making good food, but you need to be known to attract customers, you need that USP to differentiate yourself from all the hunches of restaurants out there that are making good food,” he commented.
As these figures indicate, successful contestants can add enormous value to the restaurants they work for, but a bad image on the show would also have repercussions, which meant increased pressure for those head chefs. “When you’re a head chef you’re putting your reputation but also your restaurant’s reputation on the line by doing MasterChef, which I think is why we all did so well on the show: we had something to lose,” added Edwards.
Davies was made director of The Adamson in Saint Andrews shortly after the show ended, and is leading the company’s development strategy. “We’re opening up a bar just next door to our building, and we’re looking at restaurants in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Edinburgh is the main goal as it is packed with foodies, but Glasgow is one to look for as well as Glaswegians love stripped back dining, with really good quality food and wine but casual service, which is where food is going at the moment. I think it will be really interesting if we open up in Glasgow,” he explained.
There is no clear timeline for the opening of The Adamson’s new restaurants as the firm hasn’t settled on a location yet, but Davies said it was not too far down the line: “Hopefully next year we’ll be opening up a new venue.”
For Edwards, this year will be “a crazy year”: “I’ve got so much going on and I’m looking at things week by week, doing things like pop-up restaurants, private dinner parties, working with companies to promote products, doing festivals and demonstrations and working with colleges and charities to promote what we’re doing and try to get the next generation in.”
And while in a previous interview with BigHospitality fresh off the show he shared his dream of opening his own restaurant, this time Edwards said plans are not yet in motion. “I don’t know whether my dream’s changed but I’m happy going with the flow and doing different things at the moment. I don’t know whether I want to just focus on one thing or whether I want to focus on lots of different things. That answer will probably become clearer at the end of the year when there’s another Masterchef winner but at the moment I’m really happy just experiencing all these different things to do with the catering industry,” he explained.