Man About Town meets Man at the Top: Chef/restaurateur Jason Atherton hits the heights

Up a skyscraper and looking out over the sights of the city, was an appropriate place to meet Jason Atherton.

For those not familiar with him, the chef is at the top of the London restaurant scene. His story is Dick Whittington-esque: he came to London from Sheffield at 16 with a desire to learn how to cook. Now 42, he has five restaurants in London (and seven across the Far East), which among them have won awards, press praise and Michelin stars, and are always full.

The latest, City Social at Tower 42, seems destined to become a go-to spot for both foodies of the financial world and panoramic view junkies. The best view, he showed me, comes from one of the stalls in the ladies loos (don’t worry, he checked they were empty before we went in).

He told me that he doesn’t like the word “empire”, but that’s what he has. But it’ a rare one as all the restaurants seem to be doing well. Unlike his former mentor Gordon Ramsay, no one seems to be levelling the accusation at Atherton that he has overstretched.

Perhaps he doesn’t like the idea of an “empire”, because his is a very modern one. Taking inspiration from “creative” technology companies such as Google, the chef has created a special kitchen and “breakout” area for all employees (be they cooks or accountants) to come up with new ideas for the business.

That creativity and the extremely precise attention to detail (he was picking up tiny pieces of fluff from the floor) while he gave me a tour suggests that in years to come, he’ll be able to see even more of his restaurants from the view of his latest one.

Free sub-terranean shows

A couple of streets away from Atherton’s base in Soho, Lewis Schaffer performs comedy each night in an unremarkable basement beneath a kebab shop. Actually to say “unremarkable” is unfair to other, unremarkable spots. The place is a bit of a dive. But then, what can you expect when the comedy is free? Schaffer, I discovered this week, offers innovation of his own in this most expensive of cities: like street theatre, customers pay what they feel like at the end of the show. In an era where when comedians are either playing stadiums or trying to shove their DVDs into your shopping baskets, it’s a refreshing change. Particularly as he is funny, energetic and very rude. The New Yorker might jokingly mock himself for making the decisions that took him to free sub-terranean shows, but it’s a clever concept that works well.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links