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
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Latest stories from i100
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

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape