Chefs question The Harden's Restaurant Guide

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 5th December 2014

Love it or loathe it, the 2015 Harden’s Restaurant Guide is out and along with the positives comes the negatives, which always cause a stir.

Once again The Oxo Tower Restaurant was named top of the ‘Most Disappointing Cooking’ category. As it’s the fifteenth year in a row we thought it was time to speak to the long suffering chef who’s cooking is constantly criticised.

Jeremy Bloor
Jeremy Bloor 

Surprisingly if you take a look at who joins OXO on that list, it’s star studded to say the least! Dinner by Heston comes in at number two and bringing up the rear is Le Gavroche, The Ivy and Alain Ducasse. Dinner by Heston were too busy to tell us their views on this year's guide and Le Gavroche declined to comment but the chef at the top of the OXO Tower was happy to tell us his thoughts on being the head chef of the restaurant which receives this unwanted accolade year on year.

“It does affect me for ten minutes when I read it,” explained OXO head chef Jeremy Bloor. “But then how would anybody take it if somebody said you were doing the worst cooking in London? I’m the head chef so it does affect me initially but then I realise it’s just sensationalised. It’s every single year and it’s just the same story.”

The 41-year-old has been at OXO for 13 years and has previously worked with Marco Pierre White and Henry Harris. A chef who champions the classics over 

modern cooking techniques, Jeremy and his team refuse to be influenced by any negative criticism.

He said: “In terms of guides, Michelin, everyone takes it seriously because of the kudos it has got but the Harden’s guide, the credibility they’ve got – I’m not too sure about that one.

“If you look at the guide and how many people have reviewed OXO tower, I think it’s one person in the past six months. How can you come up with everything they write about us just from one review?

“But that’s what they do, it’s fine by us and it doesn’t have any effect on our business what so ever.”

Twenty years ago, Richard and Peter Harden launched their first and best-selling guide, Harden's London Restaurants - now the longest-established pocket guide to London restaurants. In 1998 a companion volume was launched: Harden's UK Restaurants. The opinions expressed in both guides are based on what is now the largest annual survey of restaurant-goers in the UK. Over 6,250 people took part for the 2015 edition, contributing some 65,000 reports and Harden’s mission is quite simply to ‘tell it how it is’.

OXO Tower
Caption

When we spoke to Richard Harden back in September, he told us ‘critics are generally there to amuse, not to inform’ and ‘a single inspection visit can’t tell you much about the consistency of the establishment’.

He said: “As to the difference between the public and inspectors, the main problem with inspectors is that they can’t avoid having idées fixes – ex-chefs are absolutely the worst! – whereas real people just judge naturally. We’ve all had a lot of hot dinners.”

If anything the guide creates a lot of discussion, some good and some bad – Jeremy appreciates that everyone is entitled to an opinion and despite topping the list again, life at The OXO Tower will carry on as normal.

“I know that the food we do here is brilliant,” said Jeremy. “We just forget about what everyone else says and focus on what we are doing. Today we have a 150 for lunch and we have 278 booked in for dinner and tomorrow is the same – does the Harden’s Guide matter to us? In one word – no. “Maybe Harden’s should come for dinner and see what we're all about.” 

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 5th December 2014

Chefs question The Harden's Restaurant Guide