‘I did have a very determined idea of making money. I was quite savvy about that,’ says the restaurateur and author, 67
I hardly worked in anybody else’s kitchen before I worked in my own. I had six months in the kitchens of a hotel in Paddington when I was a teenager, where I was actually training to be a hotel manager, to please my dad. In truth I was a bit of snob then and didn’t feel totally at home. It was a class thing; I found it hard to relate to the people I was working with but looking back I realise they were perfectly nice chaps.
The fact is I never intended to be a chef. After Oxford University I had this weird idea of running a nightclub. I started cooking in 1975 when the nightclub in Padstow didn’t work out and we turned it into a restaurant. I didn’t feel like a novice. I did have a very determined idea of making money. I was quite savvy about that. And that was my most basic lesson. You do have to understand the economics. It’s pointless putting in all that work and losing money. If you’re not making a profit you’re stuffed.