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.