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Saturday 17 February 2024

Jamie Oliver under fire - and his chef doesn't think that's fair

There is nothing quite so amusing as a chef who angrily objects to poor reviews.

Jamie Oliver - yes, the bloke whose whole empire crashed four years ago with debts of £83 million and a reported 1,000 staff out of work - recently opened a new London eatery called Jamie Oliver Catherine Street.

Critics made a beeline for the restaurant as soon as it opened late last year - but chef Chris Shaill has said that those critics should have waited longer before paying a visit.

Shaill wailed that the restaurant still needed to “find its feet” and suggested that critics should have held fire for a while until everything had settled: 

“We’ve been improving since day one and we’re improving every single day," the Drinks Business reported.

So let's get this straight. The chef didn't have his team performing the way he wanted, but the restaurant opened anyway.

Were guests charged a reduced price while Shaill got things up to speed? Err no.

Were diners showered with extras while staff were being trained on the job? Err no.

Writing for the Evening Standard,  reviewer David Ellis gave the restaurant a two-star score and criticised the slow pace of service and called the seafood cocktail “ghoulish” summing the new opening up as “a musical with a star who just can’t sing”.

Tim Hayward in the Financial Times, who visited weeks after the opening was left "sadly flat" by his visit.

But Shaill was unmoved.

"We take [reviews] with a pinch of salt," he said. "We knew what was gonna be coming.

”Lots of people have their own idea of how things should be. As a new opening we got some things wrong. I think it’s the way we deal with it: we’re very humble and we’ll take any criticism on board and we want to be better - but there are plenty of very good reviews.”

So diners who were the victims of things the team "got wrong" were reimbursed? Err no.

Jamie's team - and their high-powered PR operatives - are maybe just a little too cocky for their own good. A little like....

Simple message: Don't open a restaurant until you are ready to offer diners a good experience. Particularly if you are already on the nose.  

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