Hell's Kitchen hath no fury like a superchef scorned

Guy Adams
Monday 29 April 2013 03:47

Novelli has banned the Evening Standard food writers Toby Young and Kate Spicer from every single one of his restaurants, after they misbehaved on his recent TV show, Hell's Kitchen.

The two were among "celebrity guests" invited to compare meals produced by students of either Novelli or Gary Rhodes.

Recollections of what took place that night differ, but Young and Spicer - who admit being well refreshed - were caught on camera launching a vitriolic attack on Novelli's cooking.

The French chef, above, is still seething. "They were invited onto the show as dinner guests but all they did was get steaming drunk," he tells me. "They couldn't even walk by the end of the evening."

"I'm bothered because it hurt the contestants. They were excited at critics trying their food, but Spicer and Young were just sarcastic and obnoxious. I've now banned them from my restaurants."

The ban has been in place for several months, but only came to light yesterday, as Novelli prepared the guest list for the opening of his new restaurant in Dublin.

In her defence, Spicer denies excessive drunkeness. "I can see why he was upset by what we said, but the food was bad," she says. "Perhaps he's just stroppy because Toby and I won't sleep with him."

* In recent years, Bob Hoskins has been accused of "dumbing down," having taken a number of cameo roles in films, and TV advertisments.

Now, thank goodness, he's turning back to loftier matters and will shortly appear in the West End, for the first time in almost a decade.

In October, Hoskins heads a star-studded production of As You Desire Me, a little-known Italian tragedy, at the Playhouse Theatre. His co-stars will be Kristin Scott-Thomas, and Margaret Tyzack, who starred in Bright Young Things.

"I think an actor should go back on stage every now and again to reassess what he's doing," Hoskins said recently. "The only way to do that is in front of a live audience."

Let's hope Hoskins' luck has improved since 1981 when he made West End history at the opening night of Guys and Dolls. Spotting a woman in the front row, protesting against the staging of a musical at the National Theatre, he muttered the immortal opening line: "fuck!"

* Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood have for many years ploughed a lonely furrow as the only British rock stars with a noted passion for cricket.

Now they have company. For it turns out that Johnny Borrell, the lead singer of the hard-living band Razorlight, also likes to spend his summer afternoons listening to the gentle thwack of leather on willow.

Borrell has invited Time Out to interview him at Lords, where he admits to being both a member of MCC, and a keen amateur player.

Goodness knows what the club's senior moustaches will make of the interview. Describing a typical day at the Home of Cricket, Borrell observes: "You're in a 30,000 capacity ground with a huddle of alcoholics, retired people, and skivers."

* The former Tribune editor Mark Seddon - a proud, unreconstructed old leftie - has taken a job as New York correspondent for al-Jazeera

It's good news for Labour's high command, since he's now likely to resign his seat on the party's ruling NEC, in favour of a less awkward candidate.

"Officially, I could stay on and even stand for re-election, but in reality I'll probably quit a few weeks before party conference," explains Seddon

"My seat will go to the person behind me at the last NEC election. If that were a Blairite, I'd stay on, even if it meant flying in from New York every week. But I've done my homework, and fortunately a good Asian leftie is next in line."

* Not for the first time, the Royal Opera House has discovered that high art and politics don't always make an easy mix.

This week, the Kirov brings three classic operas - Boris Godunov, Khovanshchina and Turandot - to Covent Garden, as part of a tour organised by its former Staff Director, Yuri Laptev.

Intriguingly, Laptev has a day-job as Vladimir Putin's Presidential Advisor on the Arts (one of the Russian premier's "inner circle"). So sensing a PR coup, the Royal Opera House offered him up for interview.

Unfortunately, the Kremlin had other ideas. On arrival in London yesterday, Laptev announced that he wouldn't be speaking to journalists.

"Yuri takes small parts in two of the shows, so could be looking after his voice," I'm told. "But we think its more of a professional clash: he didn't want to be asked any awkward questions about [Vladimir] Putin."


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