Restauranteurs are often frustratingly secretive and suspicious about competition. The simple act of visiting someone else's restaurant in the same town can fill them with tension be it fear that it may be better or bristling of anticipated indignation at copied dishes or interiors. I know I was that soldier.

There is, I've dicovered in my mellower years, much to be gained by co-operating with the other restaurants and hotels in a town. Passing information about good suppliers, going to eat in other people's restaurants and giving honest appraisals and also in joining together to market somewhere like Bristol as worth a visit to enjoy some great cooking.

One of the greatest sources of pleasure to me is that there are currently six restaurants in the Good Food Guide in Padstow and I think that's partly due to the perception of that small town as being somewhere nice for food. So something like the Bristol Association of Restaurants is, I think, a great idea and looking through the list of Restaurants in the Association, many which I have been to, I can only say that Bristol is on to a pretty good thing.

I have to come to Bristol quite regularly as my TV programmes are produced from there and it is always an excitement for me thinking where I am going to have lunch when I set out from Padstow. I always ring up the BBC and say "where are we eating?" and exercise some influence in choice.

As far as I am concerned the power of a city to attract by good food is very important. When I'm on holiday I won't go back anywhere that doesn't have good food and I'm sure lots of other people feel the same way; which is why to a certain extent Bristol is currently enjoying such popularity and attracting so much business. I know I'm biased but I feel that good eating is such an important part of civilised life; I'd move there. So good luck this year and I hope to visit yet more of the restaurants in the guide.

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