‘Come on there's all these people behind the scenes’

The  Staff Canteen

Frances Atkins and Cal Byerley on what really makes a restaurant great

In this week's episode of Gilled by The Staff Canteen co-host Frances Atkins, chef-owner of Paradise Café, and her guest Cal Byerley, chef-owner of the Pine restaurant, discussed a number of topics from the four-day week and being a farmer to winning a red and a green Michelin star.

One interesting topic came up during a discussion regarding the fact that this year Pine restaurant achieved both a red and a green Michelin Star after being open for just nine months.

When asked about this achievement, Cal said: “The day we got them was unbelievable. Michelin had to tell us to maybe slow down on the Champagne because they gave us the green one so early on and they obviously wanted to surprise us later on with the red.”

 “When you've got these guys from Michelin with their cameras in your face we just couldn't get our words out. So, I think that was one of the only times I've had a 10am shot to ease my nerves.

“But, chuffed absolutely. They're obviously the big ones and the green one being such a new one, so it was great to achieve that in the second year they're giving those out.”

This was a very different experience from Frances, who said: “When we got ours you weren't even told you just had to look in the book and just hope then.

“It was a chef of mine actually who was off that day, and he rang me up and said 'oh, chef you've got a star' and I didn't believe him. Then later on that day someone else said 'oh yes, it’s in the book' and that was how you were told. But you see it wasn't commercial then. Now Michelin is commercial.”

A restaurant is more than a chef

Along with Michelin accolades, Cal also spoke about how happy was that his partner Siân Buchan received Code Hospitality’s influential women in hospitality award. He said: “What some people do in the industry is so behind the scenes, it's sad that the chefs are always put at the front and it’s always 'oh look how great this restaurant is, it's the chef who's the great one’.

“Siân does everything. I cook some food and she does the accounts, she does payroll, she works front of house, deals with everything.”

Frances added: “It's not just about the chef, at all. It's about all these people in your team that project you forward and make things happen.

“Looking after guests, giving them a little bit of extra attention - a chef would probably mess that up totally.”

Farming in a different way

Cal comes from a family of farmers, but he knew he didn’t want to do that himself, but he does feel in a way he still has his hand in that profession. Pine has a large kitchen garden, and he spends at least a day a week working on it. He explained it is a good source of inspiration for him, helping him to develop new dishes and concepts to use in the restaurant.

“When I talk to guests I always bring up the fact that, in a way, I am still a farmer. I mean my restaurant is on a farm, I live on a farm, I still grow veg and herbs and berries and all the rest of it and have a huge kitchen garden that's ever-expanding.

“It's just farming in a different way. I'm farming for individual plates whereas most farmers are 'feeding the nation', as my dad likes to say.”

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 5th August 2022

‘Come on there's all these people behind the scenes’