Is this an End to Crap Cookery/Restaurant TV Programmes?

Let me say this from the start, I really don’t enjoy the majority of cookery programmes on TV and I really dislike the , “restaurant” programs…………holding a special ledge in my stone heart for “trouble shooting programmes” and “fly on the wall”.
So what the hell has happened recently, Russell Norman’s the “Restaurant Man” has had me glued to the TV and lapping –up his laid-back, laconic style. Not for him the fake macho chest beating of Gordon Ramsey or the faux, worthy concern of Alex Pollici. Without Neanderthal confrontation Norman has dealt with people new to the industry, often frustratingly naive and conceited and dismantled their business plans with no more then 3/4 well chosen questions.
The questions were not to humiliate the new restaurateurs, but to show how alarmingly weak or ill-judged their concept/business plan was and to make them overcome these serious points before losing their money, dreams and sanity.
For me, Russell Norman has brought a dignity and humility back to our industry that was hijacked in the 90’s by chef’s wanting to become TV personalities rather than cook. This meant they were willing to do anything to appear on TV and there have been many embarrassing programmes and appearances on realty shows to support this statement.
I’m hoping that, “The Restaurant Man” is the first of a new breed of TV programmes that represent our industry……….which brings me to Restaurant Wars, which despite its misleading title was compulsive viewing for me.
Despite the editor’s best attempts to whip up a storm, both chefs gave a honest and frank account of the pressure, the criminally hard-work, the paranoia and insecurities that go with opening any restaurant, let alone a very high profile one.
I hope it showed the public at large the effort and risk that goes into these sorts of operations and that their commitment to push the boundaries should garner a certain level of respect and support.
PS You know you are nearly 50 when……..
You’re not offered condoms at the end of a haircut, but instead the barber whispers in your ear……..”do you want me to do your eyebrows?” Ahhh well I suppose it will happen even to Harry Styles one day.


The Totally Truthful, Accountable, Accurate, Trustworthy Piece of S**t …………….Tripadvisor

This is less of a Blog and more of a rant this week………….it seems the Daily Mail, (lord help us all), has discovered what we have in the industry know for a while……..some customer’s are willing to blackmail hotel and restaurant owners in order to obtain freebies…………well we hardly needed Benedict Cumberbatch to sort that one out did we?
Indeed, one restaurant claimed to be giving away 30 meals in every 1000 to so called blackmailers. As ever, in these cases there is a tendency to forget the 98% of restaurant customers that are polite, friendly, support your establishment regularly and always pay their bill, that is where the focus of both my restaurants is and always will be.
If you start letting your business be hijacked by 2% of “customers”, that by definition must hold your restaurant in contempt, you risk neglecting your real customers.
Our policy for some time has been to not engage with Tripadvisor, we will never respond to a review on their site be it good or bad. This is not driven by arrogance but after many obviously fake reviews and TA’s reluctance to correct even the most obvious sham review, that if we engage with the site then we feed the monster. If people know that posting a fake negative review will result in the manager contacting them to offer discounts/refunds……..word soon gets around and a trickle will become river.
The best advice for genuine customers remains the same…..if you have an issue/problem whilst dining always try and raise it there and any half decent restaurant can rectify the problem straight away. If this is not possible contact the restaurant by email at the earliest opportunity………..every decent restaurant would be delighted to have constructive feedback and the opportunity address/correct the matter so that the customer completely satisfied. If they don’t………..change your restaurant.


Butchers & Basil at The Belle Epoque!

I delighted to announce that we will be using meat supplied exclusively by H. Greaves & Son from Lancashire. Now I know this is unlikely to make the front page of the tabloids……..unless myself and Robert roll out of a nightclub with Jody Marsh and Kate Price in tow…..but for us it is big news.

We are forever in pursuit of the finest ingredients the region has to offer and we know how important our customers value this. By using H. Greaves & Sons we are getting the keys to the finest meat larder in the country.

Beef, hung for a minimum of 21 days for optimum flavour, Shorthorn Beef from Holker Hall Estates, Saltmarsh lamb from Cartmel, using breeds dating back from the 1800’s. The quality of grazing and quality of life afforded this livestock is second to none. All combined with excellent butchery ensure that what ends up on your plate can be eat with pleasure and confidence.

There are a hundred butchers that are cheaper, nearer and keen for our business, but as you know doing things the easiest way isn’t our style, that’s for others. You can be reassured that we will never put our own convenience before quality.

Update on our Kitchen Garden…………..

You may not know that we have a Kitchen Garden at the Belle Époque, well we have and its only customers are the Belle Époque and the Rose & Crown Chophouse. Its situated on a terrace near our roof garden. Currently springing into life are chives, rosemary, thyme, mint, borage, dill, lavender, lovage herbs and later this year we will be harvesting: garlic, horseradish, onions.
All these ingredients with appear across our food menus and cocktails……………..after all you wouldn’t want your Pimms without home grown Borage and Mint, would you?

Happy hunting,
Matthew Mooney

The Great Pizza Robbery – “A Margherita Pizza for under 8 quid, What a bargain”

It is widely known within the trade that pizza chains can make and serve a Margherita Pizza to their customers for a cost of 59 pence. So suddenly a retail price of circa £7.95 might initially seem like a bargain, in realty the pound for pound value is right up there with, “Moon dust” and “Snake Oil”.
Now how can a “POSH” restaurant in the middle of Cheshire bang-on about pound for pound value……one might say, my answer is simple, you will not find better pound for pound value than in a restaurant such as the Belle Époque. For example for us to sell our steak at a a similar margin that the chains sell their aforementioned pizza, the cost on our menu would have to be circa £65.00……………it’s actually £28.95. The steak is also of the highest quality, locally sourced from certified Farms/Estates………..I’m only speculating here, but I think what goes on top of pizzas from the large chains is mainly sourced from the cheaper end of the food chain.
Which brings me neatly on to the latest furore about Kebabs and shock horror…………they are not all lamb, some have contained traces of beef, horse and even dog dna. Now let me be the first to confess, in my callow youth, while stumbling out of Mister Smiths full of Grolch and draped in sweaty Martinique apparel……….I might well have imbibed in a kebab or two and too be honest I think there was a general understanding that is was best not to know what we were eating!

However, that was the late eighties and I had hoped we had moved on a little within the food industry; with local food provenance, food labelling laws etc., despite all this it appears the greatest challenge “Good Food” campaigners face is how to counteract the human brains instinct after the effects of seven pints of Stella, because surely nobody is going to eat a kebab sober……….are they?

A LOL a minute as comedy night sells out..

The Belle Epoque will hold the first of its monthly comedy nights on Thursday 4th April 2014.

The Knutsford venue has teamed up with LOL Cheshire, already regulars on the comedy circuit in the area, and the first event has already sold out. LOL Cheshire also host events in Knutsfords Brook Street Club and are said to be delighted to be bringing their shows to the Cheshire institution.

The team posed for photographs outside the King Street hotel and brasserie this morning (Monday) donning humorous clown wigs, hats and comic noses as part of the announcement.

The first event will see Gary Delaney headline the acts. Delaney, who has featured on the likes of BBC’s Mock The Week as well as numerous comedy festivals, tied the knot with comic Sarah Millican earlier this year.

Speaking of the event, Matthew Mooney exclaimed ‘The Belle Epoque has always been a great venue for entertaining, as well as a venue that very much supports the arts, spanning right from music to comedy. We are excited to welcome LOL Cheshire through our doors, along with their impressive line-up of acts, and as always look forward to hosting guests in true Belle Epoque style’.

100 tickets sold out during the short time they were on sale, but further dates have been confirmed as 8th May and 5th June, with acts due to be confirmed next week.

Belle Epoque chef congratulated on making final 18 of prestigious Roux Scholarship

The Belle Epoque today congratulated chef Dylan Owens, 26, on making the final 18 out of a starting 1600 in the prestigious Roux Scholarship. Owens has recently been appointed at The Belle Epoque following a stint with Aiden Byrne at The Church Green, Lymm.

The young chef was in good company, competing against chefs from Michelin starred restaurants, hotels and worldwide banking groups (named below).

The Roux Scholarship, a unique competition for chefs under 30 is recognised among top chefs and Michelin starred venues, was originally created by the Roux Brothers, Albert and Michel, to enable a new generation of chefs from Britain to train in what were then regarded as the greatest restaurants in the world.

The competition element is tough, based on technical skill, a strong palate and deep appreciation and understanding of the history of classical cooking.

The judging panel consisted of 10 experts including Michel Roux OBE, Albert Roux OBE, Michel Roux Jnr, Brian Turner OBE, Angela Hartnett MBE and Gary Rhodes OBE.

Michael Roux Jr commented, ‘The standard of recipes received has yet again been astounding, the creativity in method, style and presentation will make these regional finals as exciting as ever’.

Speaking from The Belle Epoque, Matthew Mooney said ‘We are extremely excited that Dylan has joined us here at The Belle Epoque, and what a wonderful opportunity and experience for him to have competed in such a credible and prestigious event as the Roux Scholarship. We are looking forward to welcoming him back, and working closely with him to continue to develop our unique offering at a time where our a la carte menu is truly at its very best’.

The Belle Epoque was one of only two venues in the north west to have chefs in the competition.



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