People & Business: Continental bonuses on the menu at Warburg

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The Independent Online
The heat is on for Allan Thistleton, a young chef who does the in-house catering for SBC Warburg. Allan has been selected as one of six finalists for the annual Roux Diners Club Scholarship. If he wins the "cook-off" next month he will win three months' training at a Michelin three-star restaurant of his choice on the Continent, plus all sorts of other goodies.

Allan works for Sutcliffe Catering, who in turn do the grub for SBC Warburg. So what do the bankers think of young Allan's efforts?

"I think the standard's excellent," said one culinary insider yesterday. "Sometimes the menus are a bit indecipherable, because they use so many French words to describe comparatively simple food."

"The general standard of international cooking has definitely improved since the old days of SG Warburg, with its old English food," the banker adds, controversially.

Does Andrew Regan of Lanica Trust wear eye liner? I only ask because an esteemed female colleague of mine is convinced he does, having seen numerous pictures of the young entrepreneur in recent days. A spokeswoman for the Regan camp firmly denies that Mr Regan wears any such eye adornment. "It would worry me if he did," she says. "He must have dark eyelashes where you would normally wear eye liner." Hmm. Perhaps we should get some private detectives on to this....

Ken Bates' Chelsea Village has bought the title and back catalogue of Football Monthly for an "undisclosed but modest sum". It's all part of Chelsea's ambitious plans for a media empire, explains Alan Shaw, Chelsea Village's company secretary.

"It will join our TV station, radio station and Internet coverage," says Mr Shaw. The magazine has been going since the Sixties at least, he says, and they've hired its current editor Paul Hawksbee from IPC Magazines where he was editor-in-chief of their five footy titles.

Mr Shaw is at pains to point out that Chelsea Village is a quite separate business from the club. The new stand at Stamford Bridge will be open in time for the new season, and there will also be a new shop, a hotel and 38 flats.

This independence is important, since Mr Shaw says Mr Hawksbee will have free rein to criticise whoever he chooses in print - including Chelsea.

There's another potential conflict of interest. Mr Hawksbee is - horror of horrors - a lifelong Spurs fan. Again Mr Shaw is unfazed. "It'll be interesting to see if he slags off Spurs."

We've had Electoral Rolls from Tesco (Blue and Red etc). Now the Royal Motor Industry Federation has produced research showing that red cars are bought by Labour supporters and blue cars by Tory voters.

"This is definitive proof that people's loyalty to political parties is deeply rooted in their subconscious," says the Federation.

For instance, in Tory held Kensington and Chelsea there are 9 per cent more blue cars than red, a pattern which is reversed in the safe Labour seat of Barnsley East and Mexborough, which has 6 per cent more red cars.

Turning to the marginal seat of Stevenage, there are only 3 per cent more red cars, the narrowest margin of the three constituencies which the Federation studied. If Labour win it the Federation says this will prove their theory.

More worrying news for Mr Major is that sales of new cars in Stevenage were 42 per cent down last year on 1989's high. The "feel good" factor obviously isn't overwhelming Stevenage's car salesman.

Unsurprisingly, there are 32 times the number of Porsches in Chelsea as there are in Barnsley. Obviously there aren't that many City bonuses reaching their way north.

Congratulations to Abbey National's new head spokesman Nick Chaloner who arrives from pr agency Hill & Knowlton on 9 May. Mr Chaloner succeeds Jane Ageros, who has been poached by US investment banking giant Merrill Lynch for a rumoured pounds 200,000-plus.

Mr Chaloner, 41, will be trousering a more modest sum. He once served in the Queen's Own Hussars and also managed Hill & Knowlton's Athens office for a spell.

While I hate the change of names of British pubs, perhaps Allied Domecq isn't getting it so wrong. A former Halifax Building Society in Birmingham has been redone at pounds 1.2m and becomes The Factotum and Firkin. A converted post office in Bromley is reborn as the Philatelist and Firkin; unused courts in Leeds are now the Felon and Firkin. But what will they call a disused court in Muswell Hill, north London?

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