independent

Wednesday 23 April 2014

How food legend Lander charmed the trade

Most of the time, restaurateurs and critics tend to avoid each other, rather like lions and zebras (I'm not saying which is which ... ), so it takes a particular type of carrot to get them into the same room at the same time.

This week, that carrot came in the form of Nicholas Lander, author of The Art of the Restaurateur, who owned L'Escargot restaurant, in London, in the 1980s, where he fed Princess Diana, Ella Fitzgerald, Mick Jagger and half of theatrical London, before, in a gamekeeper-turned-poacher move, reviewing restaurants for the Financial Times.

Such is Lander's reputation that Jay Bourke, Domini and Peaches Kemp (who have just opened the delightful Hatch & Sons Irish Kitchen in the basement of Trevor White's Little Museum of Dublin on St Stephen's Green), Aoife Carrigy, Caroline Hennessy and Maggie Armstrong (minus beau Village editor Michael Smith) all happily piled into Ely Winebar on Monday to chat to him about a profession that he describes as "a great and exciting responsibility". Lander's wife, Jancis Robinson, is probably the most respected wine writer in the UK (oh, and provides advice to HM Queen Elizabeth on the cellars at Buckingham Palace), meaning that together they are what the Americans love to call a Power Couple. And yes, friends often gulp nervously at the idea of inviting them to dinner, he tells me, though insists that there is really no need, "because atmosphere and personality will always be more important than what's on the plate".

He should know: "It's not just his knowledge and expertise that brought me here," Domini Kemp told me, "it's also his impeccable manners and charm."

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