It has now been more than a year and a half since Hedone opened its doors. Time really flies. I thought I would have time to blog about what it is like running a restaurant, about produce and other matters that might be vaguely amusing for old readers of this blog. Speaking of which I am grateful that so many old readers of Gastroville have visited Hedone.
It has been quite a bit busier and a lot tougher than I expected. The first couple of months were chaotic. If I had to do it again I would maybe do things in a different way. I never expected we would get the attention we got. Never ever. As several online commentators and bloggers pointed out I was just an amateur chef, albeit to some with a bit of talent, and I reckoned it would take quite some time for me to get used to running a professional kitchen and to send out food in a restaurant setting. After only a couple of weeks we got 4 stars from Fay Maschler and 5 stars from Time Out. Then great reviews in FT, Guardian, Metro and later in New York Times. I was stunned by the influence some of these critics had. Nick Lander’s article drove in people from all over the world. In between there was a more faint praise from Giles Coren’s stand in Tony Turnball, who was actually one of only a few critics that I recognized. It was hard to decide whether we deserved all the good reviews since I did not know when most of the critics had been. We were shit some nights but doing pretty good food some nights. It was a struggle getting good enough produce on a daily basis and to find kitchen staff, me having no real connections in the British trade and no kitchen track record when we started. Sometimes I was dead tired and I could work for days with a constant headache. When Turnball was in we were shit, so we deserved a good beating, but did not get it.
It may sound weird, but had I known that the critics would come in this early, I would have had the restaurant open to friends only for a couple of months while I got used to being a chef and got used to the kitchen, its organization etc.