Table Talk

18 June 2004
Table Talk

Dinner guests left a bad taste Auberge du Lac chef-patron Jean-Christophe Novelli wasn't the only person who had a meal to forget at Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen. But unlike others, he put his nightmare down to bad company, not the food. He told Caterer: "The experience was one of the most embarrassing of my last 25 years. It just shows that who you eat with can ruin a meal, and not just the food."

Novelli's misery was caused by fellow diners Antony Worrall Thompson, Aldo Zilli and Paul Bloxham (or "I can't remember his name, but he looked like Tintin"), who criticised the whole project throughout their meal.

Novelli put the barrage down to AWT's long-running feud with Ramsay. "It was embarrassing; he shouldn't involve me in that," he said. "Anyway, I thought the food was quite good, and not as bad as some I've eaten from Michelin-starred chefs. The best thing of the night was Jean Phillipe, the restaurant manager. He was a shining example, considering what he went through."

Two sugars… and a massage, please Andrew Turner, executive chef at London's Bentley hotel, is tomorrow (18 June) planning to give away free breakfasts to London's black cab drivers from a stall outside the hotel. Sausage and bacon sandwiches (albeit "cooked slightly longer than for my usual customers," says Turner) and a cup of tea or coffee are what's on offer, as well as a shoulder or hand massage from the hotel's spa staff.

Most Londoners probably wouldn't think cab drivers were in need of charity, but Turner is frank about his reasons. "My customers have said that taxis don't seem to know where we are, even though we're just off the main road in from Heathrow. We've placed ads in the taxi driver magazines but it still hasn't done the trick. So I plan to get them to come to me. It may cost me £100, but if I get even 10 drivers to come down, they'll tell 10 more and soon I'll have 1,000 or so more cabbies knowing about our fantastic hotel."

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