What makes a restaurant hot? Whose name do you need to drop to get a table? Why is one place booked solid for the next nine months while somewhere equally delicious is as empty and inhospitable as the Gobi desert?
Welcome to the restaurant business, where the hours are punishing, the conditions are brutal and the Chef's Special has been languishing at the back of the fridge for the past three days. This is an industry plagued with obsessives. Why else do some chefs drive themselves crazy in pursuit of elusive Michelin stars, when in reality all they're doing is 'making someone else's tea'?
Nothing is left to chance: the lighting, the temperature or even the cut of the salmon fillet. There's even a spot of psychology behind the menu. What do they want you to order? What makes them the most money? And why should you really hold back on those side dishes?
In Restaurant Babylon, Imogen Edwards-Jones and her anonymous industry insider lift the lid on all the tricks of the food trade and what really makes this £90 billion a year industry tick. So please do sit down, pour yourself some heavily marked-up wine and make yourself comfortable (although we'll need that table back by 8.30 sharp).
Imogen Edwards-Jones is the bestselling author of Hotel Babylon, Air Babylon and Fashion Babylon, as well as novels such as My Canape Hell and Shagpile. She lives in west London with her husband and their young daughter.
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