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Good food guide warn of dupe company demanding cash

It would appear that some restaurants, hostelries and cookery schools have been targeted by fraudsters looking to charge them for inclusion in the next edition of the Good Food Guide. In a recent statement, the legitimate publication and victim of this duplicitous act is trying to warn anyone in the hospitality trade not to fall for this scam.

The letter’s circulation has been brought to the attention of the legitimate The Good Food Guide after restaurants received invitations from an organisation calling itself the ‘Good Food Guide Limited‘, who allegedly have sent the erroneous letter in a mass mail marketing drive asking for cash in exchange for page space in their publication. It would appear that some establishments, seeing the opportunity of a bit of extra good publicity, have already parted with readies to the fraudulent organisation; they have not been named.

However, it is not saying that there will not be a collection of restaurants who have paid for space and will, at some stage, appear in a collection from a company called ‘Good Food Guide Limited’.  If the restaurant owners who have paid for that privilege appear in such a book, it is unclear what law will have actually been broken.

The legitimate The Good Food Guide denies any connection

The first and most important point that the real The Good Food Guide wishes to point out is that it never charges organisations to appear in its pages. If it did, it would be nothing more than a series of advertisements and page space would go to the restaurants willing to part with the most money. It has never, nor ever will, ask for cash donations from restaurateurs, landlords, breweries or caterers in return for prime page location.

Joe Public helps decide who’s in the publication

The only way restaurants can get into the established guide is by being good at what they do. Based on recommendation by members of the public, incognito members of The Good Food Guide will visit a premises and rate them accordingly.

Or, if public sway is voluminous and persuasive enough about their fine dining experience, that will not necessitate a visit. Either way, it is the verified quality, by inspection or popularity, that gets restaurants into the popular annual publication.

Vigilance urged by The Good Food Guide spokeswoman

The publisher of the compilation of the best restaurants and eateries in the UK, Angela Newton, spoke out on behalf of all the staff involved in putting this tome together, year after year.

She denied outright any involvement with either the production of the letter or association with the organisation behind it, Good Food Guide Limited, although she did admit to knowing of the letter’s circulation. The culprits are being sought out and the matter investigated.

Rules of inclusion spelt out and underlined

Newton went on to stress that featured restaurants only ever appear in their book following the readership’s feedback or their own visits to restaurants and subsequent inspections carried out anonymously to verify recommendations or see if standards are being maintained from eateries that have featured in previous editions of the tome.

If your restaurant, café, public house or cookery school has received such a letter, Newton confirmed ‘…it has not come from us!’ Anyone who has received such a demand should e-mail the publication direct at [email protected]

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UK finals of Young Chef and Young Sommelier this week

Today is the final of the Young Chef of the Year Award for the hospitality trade as nominated by Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. Earlier this month, the finalists for the UK section of the international competition were announced as well as those for Young Sommelier of the Year Award, which takes place on Thursday at London’s Gaggenau Showrooms.

But first, back to the Young Chef UK final heat. Twelve names have gone into the hat from fine dining establishments from right across the country. They will have to prepare a three-course meal not knowing what tools they have to work with as all of the ingredients will come from a market basket that is being kept secret until the final itself, taking place in Worthy Down. All of their past cookery class knowledge will be put to the test in this one-off cook-off event.

The finalists will have to impress a select panel of judges, which will not only includes names from renowned terra firma eating establishments but also the development chef from P&O cruises, Hayden Davies. No doubt the idea behind having a P&O representative on the panel is to snap up talent to sail the seven seas and look after their customers who have come to expect nothing but the best, over the years.  From the shortlist, there should be more than enough who qualify and, let’s face it, are there many better ways to see the world than when you’re young and in demand?

Hayden will have to be patient, though. The winner of the UK final, a prestigious enough accolade in its own rite, will then head off to Berlin for the International Final in September.

Likewise, for the Sommelier of the Year Award, there will be a dozen finalists, but the three-stage competition will have a slightly different feel as the judges will play an active part in the final. As well as demonstrating their knowledge of alcohol, in all its forms, the finalists will have to role play with the judges, identifying which wines are recommended for which dish, champagne service etiquette and inter-acting with the judge to be assessed on their professionalism when dealing with customers. It really is an all-round competition that the youngsters will have to go through.

The competitors in both finals will have to wait around a week or so to see who’s won as the victor of each will be announced at the Dorchester Hotel on June 20th in a special presentation dinner.

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The next tool to fight C.O.D. – fine dining

Compulsive Obsessive Disorder has become a byword, or a branch of psychotherapy, that is having a lot of eggs thrown into its basket since being coined as a condition with mileage and brought to prominence by the likes of TV psychotherapist Stelios Kiosses.

His Channel Four show, The Hoarder Next Door, highlights just one those eggs – the secret hoarders of Great Britain, as the name suggests. The figure is so vast, popular theory is that from next year it will be a branch of neuroses in its own rite. Recent estimates put the number of people suffering with the condition in the UK at around 3,000,000, which, coincidentally, has been the approximate viewing figure for the show this Spring. You’re surprised? So are Channel Four, but in the nicest possible way. Perhaps it is just the hoarders watching, burning the shows onto DVD and storing them next to all of their other possessions ‘in case they might come in useful for something later’.

But what the devil has all this got to do with cookery courses and fine dining?

Stelios, rapidly becoming one of the most recognised therapists on TV, is of the firm opinion that the disorder is self-feeding. The urge to collect nick-nacks, jumble, newspapers or not throw out old clothes, shoes and bags that will never be worn again (are you listening, my Da Wife?) takes priority and diet becomes neglected. The lack of nutrition, a common theme with sufferers, not only serves to deprive the body of essential vitamins, minerals, carbs and protein but the mind too, funnelling the hoarders obsession. By extracting them from this self-indulgent spiral (which is more than likely subconscious) and catapulting the patients into a festival of fine dining for their taste buds, they are lifted from the hum-drum that may well have been the catalyst that allowed the disorder to take a grip so powerfully in the first instance.

Stelios’ friendship with restaurateur Andreas Antona, owner of Michelin-rated Simpsons in Edgbaston, Birmingham, where the TV therapist is based, kick-started Stelios theory that good food = good mood. And, just like the cookery schools that run the cookery courses on our home page, Stelios takes a whole heap of, what to the untrained eye looks like, haphazard ingredients, does his magic with them and returns an end result that is much more palatable. And it works.

Tantalising anyone’s taste buds is a gift and will instantly lift their mood. And that’s the way Stelios views therapy – as an artform, as well as a treatment that has its base roots firmly implanted in scientific research. And Antona agrees and welcomes the cookery classes that find their way to his kitchens.

He goes on to explain that cookery, likewise an art, takes 100% focus to perfect. For the time they’re learning to cook interesting and different recipes that are anything but the processed meals for one (or for a family, if the rest of the household are unlucky enough to have a hoarder in charge of the menu) they usually subject themselves to, they start to see the pattern and interact with other students.

The cookery classes are just like the warm up and, when the sufferers are primed, Stelios and his team takes over to really get to the root cause of the issue (in total confidentiality) and work with the patient to find a way out of the clutter-packed wilderness, whilst nibbling away on the amazing food they’ve just prepared. Et voila. The treatment can begin.

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Edinburgh’s hidden cookery school gem

There must be something in the air in Edinburgh as its two most prolific football teams took to Hampden Park at the weekend to do battle for the Scottish F.A. Cup. Following the Jambo’s victory parade in the sun yesterday afternoon on the open-top bus, the rest of Scotland’s capital gets back to work, today, with thingstodoinedinburghtoday.com offering a cracking cookery course deal through Groupon for the Coulston Cookery School.

The bigger the deal you take out, quite simply, the more you save from their set price list of fine dining cookery classes. A single place entitles you to a 58% discount, two people will benefit from 60% off and, if you book a private session for up to ten people, the group will save almost two thirds, snapping up a whopping 63%, the prices coming in at £50, £95 and £450 respectively.

But there is more to the cookery school than just learning how to cook haute cuisine.

The Haddington rural estate in which the cookery school is set not only provides a venue for the private functions it hosts and idyllic atmosphere for cookery lessons, but its vast land beside the retreat has plenty of room to grow the vegetables used in the cookery classes. These sit well beside the other locally-sourced ingredients that all go in to making this a real adventure into the world of fine dining.

And for the savings, you won’t simply be thrust in at the deep end or wondering whether you’ve managed to achieve the high expectations set by one of Edinburgh’s most sought after cookery courses.

Prior to you getting your hands dirty (not literally, obviously), there is a meet and greet session over tea where you get to know the other students taking the class with you and an informal drop in by one of the chefs.

You then move ion to the kitchens themselves, where an initial demonstration will prime you in order that you can take on the three course meal challenge that the teachers, all master chefs themselves, will set you. Once you’re done and your creations are taken through to the dining room other master chefs and chefs of the future will sample your delights, appraising your efforts with critical eyes, nose and taste buds.

So if you fancy learning to cook in an estate that boasts 700 years of fine dining history or are simply heading off to Edinburgh and are looking for something to do other than the usual tourist ventures associated with Scotland’s capital city, the Coulston Cookery School seems to have it all wrapped up.

If Scotland’s a jaunt too far, don’t forget we have our own choice of classes on cookerycourses.co.uk.

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Le Gavroche – still the hippest eatery in London 45 years on

Even if you’ve never attended a cookery course in your life, do not consider yourself particularly to be a foodie or haven’t been to the capital for decades, you will have heard the name Le Gavroche touted in fine dining circles in magazines, television, even film.

Opened at the dawn of the summer of love in April ’67, when the media was still recovering from England winning the World Cup (some would say ‘still is‘) and the world was yet to be wowed by the greatest music festival ever at Woodstock, Le Gavroche had high expectations, even if London’s fine dining scene was only slightly more active than sedentary with the youth of the day experimenting in lentils and pulses rather than fine French cuisine.

However, Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison and Co may well be keeping the heaven-bound occupied (oh, yes they would – all sins would be forgiven for their unique style and music created whilst they were down here), Le Govrache is still standing, opening its doors in London for the 45th year.

The second generation of the Roux family are at the helm

And, still at its head are la famille Roux, whom many would argue were amongst the movement that started London’s mammoth turn around and entry onto the global map of haute cuisine. Gone were the cafés of the ‘Quadrophenia’ era (yes, I know the film was released in ’79, but you get the picture) and classy restaurants were springing up all over the capital in their place.

A check back on the restaurant’s history and you begin to see what an impact and influence the ground-breaking Michelin-starred eatery has had; from the biggest names associated with the silver screen and global dignitaries to our own royal family and prime ministers – all have had occasion to dine there in the past.

Michel Roux Jr., son of Albert and nephew of Michel, the two brothers who opened the famous restaurant in Chelsea before it found a new home in Mayfair, has been at the helm for more than twenty years. The cookery classes have been handed down the generation inhouse and, according to Michel Jr., it is not only the family’s passion for food, but also the manner in which the guests are treated that has been the backbone of Le Gavroche’s success.

Perfection is something to be strived for and that has led to this famous restaurant being a powerhouse and a beacon of all that is good about dining in the capital, whilst many a pretender has fallen by the wayside over the same period. It is no wonder, then, why, as Michel Jr. concluded, critics as well as customers have kept the restaurant a beloved treasure of the capital for forty five years.

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