The Art of the Restaurateur is a compelling look behind the scenes at some of the world’s best restaurants, and celebrates the complex but unsung art of the restaurateur. In his first ever book, acclaimed Financial Times restaurant critic (and former restaurateur of L’Escargot in London in the 1980’s) Nicholas Lander reveals everything about the highs and lows of the restaurant business. He is presenting the untold stories of luxurious Michelin-starred restaurants, bustling neighbourhood bistros and stylish fast-food cafes. Beautiful line-drawings by Nigel Peake are sprinkled throughout the chapters to illustrate how the different restaurateurs and their restaurants look like.
This book is not only a great read for anyone who’s ever dreamed of opening a restaurant, but for anyone who is interested in taking a look behind the scenes of a restaurant. Every story in this book is fascinating in its own way, and each one has something to tell about the creation of a successful restaurant, from finding the right location to deciding what kind of food to serve. It talks about the importance of getting the design right, ways of managing staff and dealing with difficult customers. But The Art of the Restaurateur also reveals the things that didn’t go according to plan, which is at least as interesting to read.
Until 30 years ago, restaurateurs were considered the most important figures in any restaurant’s success, with chefs consigned to the kitchen. This process began to change with the elevation of chef-patron Paul Bocuse in the late 1970s, and has continued with the rise of the celebrity chef. Restaurateurs are hugely important but rarely written about and significantly under-appreciated. The profession, other than its commercial and social aspects, has a fundamental human appeal: restaurateurs derive their name and profession from the French verb restaurer when their role was to restore the health of travellers battered by the potholes of French roads in the early 19th century. The role has changed a lot since then, and continues to evolve in fascinating ways.
You can purchase The Art of the Restaurateur at Phaidon. If you’d like to know more about the book, have a look at this interesting interview with the author Nicholas Lander on YouTube. Also very interesting is the website of Nicholas Lander, where he lists recommendations and reviews he wrote for restaurants all over the world. And now excuse me please, I’m hungry!