'First Dates' Fred Sirieix: The chef is not the most important person in a restaurant
Fred Sirieix is possibly best well known for being the First Dates Maître d’, however, he’s got a wealth of experience in the restaurant trade, which he is putting to good use by launching his own popup restaurant next month.
Speaking on White Wine Question Time, the French TV star revealed that while the food is obviously important, controversially, he doesn’t believe the chef is the star anymore.
“Restaurants, traditionally, have always been geared towards the chef,” he told podcast host Kate Thornton.
“Actually, the chef is not the most important person. It's 50% of the jigsaw and the other 50% is the front of house. And nowadays, when quality is really omnipresent - you can find great food anywhere - what is it that's going to make a difference?”
The popup, which launches at Clapton Country Club at the end of August, is a collaboration between himself and TV chef Andi Oliver. The pair met on the show Remarkable Places To Eat and “hit it off straight away” leading them to create their own eating experience.
Despite years of working in high end establishments such as Le Gavroche and Brasserie Roux, the 48-year-old revealed he was nervous about it.
“With all my experience of front of house and service, I am actually telling you, I am bricking it!” he laughed.
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“It's not a given that it's going to be a success and you have to make it a success. I'm not thinking about what is going to go well. I'm thinking about everything that potentially will go wrong. And if I haven't thought about something, I bet you that during service, that thing is to come and bite me in the butt!”
He continued: “We have to create an amazing experience for the guests that are going to go there. When you're talking about customer service, there's no great - either it's good or it's bad. There is no middle ground there, and we have to know what we're looking for.”
Fred, who has worked training front-of-house teams in the restaurant industry, said customer service was one of the most difficult things to get right because people were involved.
“The most difficult thing to do really is the service because it's about people,” he told Thornton.
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”And it's about the ability of people to deliver an experience, regardless of how they feel inside. Sometimes you can meet a waiter and it could be the saddest person inside - it's like clowns in the circus - but when you are in service, you've got to deliver it.
“The show must go on and you've gotta be able to put it on. That's the nature of the job. It's about that performance.”
Hear Fred Sirieix chat more about his new popup restaurant, how he found true love and the best wines to drink on the latest episode of White Wine Question Time. Listen now on iTunes and Spotify.