My Week: Jacob Kenedy, Chef
Opening a restaurant in the teeth of a recession seems like a crazy idea. But for this chef the move is paying off spectacularly
Saturday 31 January 2009
My alarm goes off at 6.45am, which I hate. I have to be at the restaurant – Bocca di Lupo in the West End – by eight to receive deliveries. We do all our prep in the morning because there's so little time between serving lunch and dinner. We've had some amazing reviews so we're phenomenally busy. I spend the evening training up someone to be a sous chef, which is hard work for both of us. I don't get in until 3am.
After about four hours' sleep I rush into work for an accounts meeting. Don't open a restaurant if you like your sleep. It overruns slightly so I have to dash to see one of our major wine suppliers who are holding their annual tasting. I have to remember to spit because I'm working in the evening, but after trying about 200 wines, you get some of it in your system. I manage to leave at one o'clock in the morning, which I call a reasonable time.
We are ecstatic to find out that Bocca di Lupo has been voted by Time Out London's No.1 restaurant for 2009 so the phone rings off the hook. For the first time in weeks I feel like we are on top of things. We have a hugely busy lunch but it all goes well. It's hard to say why we're so busy when so many restaurants are going under. Opening last November was a very good time to do so. If we'd opened a year ago as we had originally planned we would be left to deal with the downturn like everyone else, but as it stands we're riding through the tough times with great press and fantastic reviews. We keep our profit as low as possible without being ridiculous, so we can offer good value for our customers and I suppose that's what's helping. An evening off so I have dinner with my partner for the first time in months. This is heaven; we talk about something other than the restaurant.
Up excruciatingly early again, and straight into the restaurant to do prep. We're one man down so it's pretty desperate, but we go about making 100kg of foie gras sausage, an enormous amount. I have the evening off and so I bring one of our star trainee chefs in for dinner because he's decided being a chef is not for him, which is sad for us. The food is great so I'm very happy.
I work from home today, I'm looking to get some more help: mentally I'm on top of everything but physically I think I'm starting to fall to pieces. The restaurant is very much from our hearts; it's something we believe in and I really think that comes across. We started planning it about two and a half years ago when we had no idea a recession was coming. There's no point in worrying about the future; we can only do the best we can and deal with things as and when they come up.
Bocca di Lupo: 12 Archer Street, London W1 (020 7734 2223)
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