FT critic Lander says chefs over-hyped
Updated: 2014-04-08 11:40
Restaurateur Michelle Garnaut helped reinvent the historic Bund waterfront as a premium location for eateries and nightclubs in Shanghai by opening M on the Bund in 1999, a move that also earned her a privileged place in Nicholas Lander's book The Art of the Restaurateur.
The book is filled with profiles and tips on how to stay innovative, including useful details on lighting and wall decorations.
"She transformed the Bund, and she's done it in such style," the author says. "She was here when it was a run-down piece of property ... the landlord told her that her dish prices were too high."
Lander gave a presentation at the same venue recently, during which he outlined the 10 key qualities needed to survive in this increasingly unforgiving business.
As in his book, which is available in China as an e-book, he used Australian Garnaut to exemplify "rigor and flexibility".
The only Chinese he included is Hong Kong's Alan Yau, although he does not merit his own chapter. London-based Yau founded the Wagamama food chain, Hakkasan - Britain's first Michelin-starred Cantonese eatery - and Yauatcha. His first project on the Chinese mainland saw him collaborate on Jing Yaa Tang, a Peking duck restaurant, in Beijing last summer.
Lander has served as the Financial Times' restaurant critic for the past quarter of a century. After a stint as a wine importer, he opened a restaurant in central London, L'Escargot in Greek Street, in the mid-1980s.
"Chefs get far too much attention," he says. "All the hype hoisted on them over the last decade has been overdone." He also described Michelin as having fallen from grace since expanding beyond France.