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
Saturday 29 January 1994
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.
Life & Style blogs
Why it matters 26 million people have changed their Facebook profile picture to a rainbow flag
Optical illusion turns blue demon into brunette
The age of inactivity: How laziness is killing us
What do the emojis on Snapchat mean?
iPhone 7: Force Touch phones are being prepared for launch, say reports
- 1 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 2 Iain Duncan Smith's expenses credit card is suspended after he runs up £1,000 debt to taxpayer
- 3 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 4 French woman dies in freak bungee jumping accident
- 5 Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck to divorce and end their 10-year marriage
iJobs Food & Drink
£33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...
£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...
£22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...
£39,000: ICE ICT: Specific and detailed knowledge and experience of travel sys...