Once more with feeling: our last Crazy Coqs gig of 2015

Jay Rayner

We’ve got to that point in the year when we start to count off the lasts. For us it’s the last JR Quartet gig of 2015, back where so much of it started at the Crazy Coqs, the cabaret venue inside Brasserie Zedel off Piccadilly Circus. Obviously I’m be a fan, but if you haven’t been you really should, if not to see us then to see someone else. It’s a genuine cabaret/ jazz room in the old style. Elbow to elbow it seats no more than 90. The sound’s terrific and the performers are all but sitting on your lap. Except for me, because I know how much I weigh. I sit by the piano.

Start with dinner in Brasserie Zedel, which I regard as a gift to London.  Here’s what I said about the place when it opened in 2012, before they’d paid me a penny piece to play their jazz room. Hell, the soup is still less than £3 and there’s a three course menu for £12.50. Follow that with the late show. We’re on from 10.30pm. We do food and drink songs, and I tell filthy stories. One involves my mother and a life size carving in wood of a fan’s penis. Don’t judge me. These are the events that have made me the man I am. In case you’re wondering what we sound like, here’s a recording of Black Coffee (or click on soundcloud panel below).

In the new year we’ll be playing all over the country and you can find out more over on the live show page here.

Meanwhile this is where to get tickets for the Crazy Coqs gig.

See you there.

Popbitch publishes cobblers, shock.

IMG_1297 (2)

So, the latest Popbitch emailing has a story in which it claims that, at the launch of my new book, The Oyster House Siege, I forced guests to listen to my delicious jazz stylings. (See screen grab).

Great story.

Only thing is The Oyster House Siege was first published in 2006, four books ago, and I didn’t have a launch party for it. But otherwise, good on you Popbitch.

Meanwhile if you’re curious about the whole jazz thing you can find info and listings here.

A bargain for which you don’t have to apologise

The Apologist by Jay Rayner



I’ve just learned that the eBook of my novel, The Apologist, is at a bargain price of just 99p for a few more days. You can get it by going to the books page and clicking on the cover

Meanwhile, here’s some stuff from the original press release, issued at eBook publication last year.



It was the book that predicted a whole political movement, imagined a field of academic study that became a reality and inspired an internet craze. Now the 10th anniversary of the cult novel The Apologist, by acclaimed restaurant critic Jay Rayner, is being marked by its publication for the first time as an eBook.

For politicians the past ten years have been the sorriest decade: Tony Blair said sorry for slavery; Gordon Brown apologised for the treatment of code breaker Alan Turing; Barack Obama asked forgiveness from Guatemala for the way prisoners there were used by the United States in medical tests; and David Cameron apologised for almost everything, including the Tory Party’s demonisation of Nelson Mandela, the homophobic Section 28 and even an ageist remark to an elderly Labour MP.

For award-winning writer, journalist and broadcaster Jay Rayner, this outbreak of official penitence was a case of fact aping fiction. His 2004 novel had predicted it all. The Apologist follows the adventures of restaurant critic Marc Basset, who never said sorry to anyone until a chef to whom he gave a bad review kills himself. Wracked with guilt he apologises to the man’s widow, and discovers he enjoys the experience so much that he decides to apologise for everything he’s ever done wrong. He’s so good at it that his talents come to the attention of the United Nations which appoints him their Chief Apologist, to travel the world apologising for the sins of slavery, apartheid, the holocaust and much else besides. This he does by cooking luscious meals – so the book is not just political satire but a foodie romp.

At the heart of the novel is the irascible Professor Thomas Schenke and his academic papers expounding his theory of Penitential Engagement. It was supposed to be satire but in the years following publication Jay discovered that official penitence had indeed become an academic discipline, producing papers with titles like The Age of Apology: Facing up to the past; The Role of Apology in International Law; and Official Apologies and the Quest for Historical Justice. What’s more, many of those papers referenced Jay’s novel.

‘The idea that saying sorry, the thing our mums taught us to do, could become an area of academic study was meant to be a joke,’ Jay says now. ‘But in the past decade it’s become a serious business, with numerous academics building their whole reputations on it.’

The new eBook edition comes complete with an afterword that traces the origins of the novel in the hit US sitcom Friends, the way it launched a cult ‘apologising’ website where thousands from around the world said sorry for their own misdeeds, and how Hollywood attempts to bring the story to the screen were scuppered by the great Brad PittJennifer Aniston-Angelina Jolie love triangle. ‘Most satirical novels capture a precise moment in time,’ Jay says. ‘But The Apologist managed to be ahead of the curve and predict a whole political movement, which is why I’m delighted that, for its 10th birthday, it will finally be available as an eBook.’


Praise for The Apologist

‘A very funny book about apologies by someone who has a lot to apologise for.’ Anthony Bourdain

‘Worthy of a standing ovation.’ The New York Times

‘It is a brave writer who apologises for his novel in the preface, but Jay Rayner has apology taped … the timeliness of the novel is a terrific coup.’ The Independent

‘Laugh-out-loud funny.’ InStyle

‘It’s difficult to imagine why anybody wouldn’t like The Apologist.’ The Guardian

‘A darkly humorous satire about the emotional state we’re in … like all the best comedy, the novel has a serious point to make.’ Time Out

The Kitchen Cabinet is open for business again…

jr kicthen cabinet

So the 12th series of BBC Radio 4s Kitchen Cabinet starts recording again next week and as ever we need audiences. The first one – to be broadcast on December 19 for the winter solstice –  will be recorded in the Visitor’s Centre at Stonehenge. Tickets are free but you do need to apply for them.

You can do so here

And if you don’t know what I’m talking about – WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?

The Kitchen Cabinet is culinary panel show a bit like Gardener’s Question Time, but with slightly looser bra straps. Our panellists are food writers, cooks and generally greedy people; the likes of Andi Oliver, Tim Hayward, Rachel McCormack, Tim Anderson and Robert Owen Brown (and many others). We also talk food science with Professor Peter Barham and food history with Dr Annie Gray. You can listen to a previous episode, From Hampton Court, here . But only for two more days.

During the rest of this series we will be at Tintern Abbey, Reading University, Stoke-on-Trent, Audley End, Sevenoaks and Billingsgate Market in London. I’ll attempt to post ticket info for all of those too.

Welcome to the place where I can bare all.

jay rayner besidey pool

A few years ago I received a call from one of my editors on the Observer. ‘I want you to get all your pubic hair removed,’ Nicola said. ‘It will be great.’ Then she hung up. This was her usual strategy: propose an outrageous story but not leave you with any time to argue. She knew that, if the idea was good enough, I would come round eventually.

She was right. Two days later I phoned her back and, with a deep sigh, said ‘Okay, where am I going to have this done?’ The assignment – go along to an all male grooming clinic and find out what it was like to have every last hair removed, because apparently so many men were now doing it – would be painful. But it would be a hell of thing to write about afterwards.

I have similar feelings about launching my own site. I’ve resisted doing so for a long time because it seems a strange and rather grandiose thing to do. Plus, unfiltered by editors, there’s always the chance I’ll post something stupid, as I’ve found from to time over on Twitter. (I am an inveterate journalist, always looking for wiser minds than mine to save me from myself). And of course, bits of this site might not work. I feel as if I’ve just acquired a second home, with a roof that could leak.

Then again, the live show part of my working life has expanded and I need one place in which I can collect all the information for that. And there’s the books and the Kitchen Cabinet and so on. Hence So welcome. Do have a look around. And if you find any of it that doesn’t work – say, on a particular type of tablet or phone – let me know via the email on the contact page and we’ll get it fixed. I’ll try to keep everything up to date, while attempting not to say anything stupid.

Meanwhile I need to link to something from here, so it might as well be that piece about getting all my hair removed. In places it’s an uncomfortable read. But that’s nothing as compared to actually having it done.