Food and Drink: I am returning to the back benches: Emily Green once held high office in the restaurant world. She reflects on her three months in power, a presidential term which ended this week

Twice the title of president has been bestowed upon me. I became president of the Executive Club of Walt Whitman High School in Sumner, Maryland, in 1972. It had dawned late on my brother, a motley band of friends and me that we had precious few extra-curricular activities to commend ourselves to university selection committees. To be precise, we had none. No science club badges, no starring roles in school plays, certainly no sporting ribbons. We promptly banded together and declared the Executive Club in session. We then elected each and every one of ourselves president, empowering ourselves to employ the title at every opportunity.

My second presidency, which afforded brief and unexpected eminence in the restaurant world, ended only last week. A cheery-sounding woman rang last November to inquire if I would be president of something called the Wine Magazine/Muscadet Most Sympathique 1994 Restaurant Awards - the Sympa Awards for short. The organiser, it emerged, was a public relations firm called Biss Lancaster. Judges would include our own Anthony Rose, Master of Wine Jancis Robinson, her husband, Nick Lander, the restaurant critic for the Financial Times, and the Evening Standard food critic, Fay Maschler. Wowee, I thought, me president of them? Hell, yes, I said.

I was asked to nominate a shortlist of restaurants. Most of my choices proved ineligible, on the unexpected grounds that they were outside London. My suggestion to lengthen the competition's already long title into the Wine Magazine/Muscadet Most Sympathique London Restaurant was politely ignored.

Several weeks had passed when a letter arrived listing the judges and their assignments. Damn] Tim Atkin, wine correspondent for the Observer, had got the Brackenbury. I would be going to somewhere called Olivio in Victoria.

There is no such restaurant; there is one called Olivo, however. Professional restaurant reviewers tend to prefer pseudonyms, but this organisation was so professional as to change the name of the restaurant as well. I rang Biss Lancaster to find out my pseudonym, to be told it had booked the table under my name. Olivo would be subjected to critics from the Independent, Financial Times and the Wine Spectator, all cognito, simultaneously. This was unorthodox enough to qualify as cunning.

What, I wondered, would be my next presidential duty? Biss Lancaster assured me that all I needed to do was to fill out a questionnaire about my meal. The company would tally the results, then re-inspect the contenders, and somehow produce a winner. The final, simple step would be to show up at a reception on 1 March and make some sort of speech. I might, if inspired, explain what a truly 'sympa' restaurant is. Biss Lancaster would help.

It dawned on me then they had got the wrong American President. Ronald Reagan was good at saying what he was told, although he probably cost more than Biss Lancaster paid, which was nothing. It was with some unease that my aide de spoon and I ate our main courses in Olivo that evening. The entire kitchen staff congregated around the bar and stared at us. Biss Lancaster's foxy tactic of using our own names appeared to have backfired.

And so to the questionnaire. It asked, for some reason, what we thought was the most important factor in going to a new restaurant. So obvious] How to get there. It offered an extra point if the wine list included Muscadet. I hadn't noticed. We had drunk a very good Barbera D'Alba from Piedmont.

Later that afternoon, Biss Lancaster rang. It had come to the painful conclusion that I wasn't a sympa kind of president. I had to agree. However, I still reserve the right to refer to myself as president. We at the Walt Whitman High School Executive Club never did fix a term. I am still in office.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform