Top positive review
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This book fills a welcome gap in the market
on 9 September 2012
These days there are endless books about celebrity chefs, to such an the extent that the public often forgets about the restaurateur, the person who actually sets up a restaurant, defines its vision and takes the financial risks. This book neatly fills this vacuum, with chapters on twenty successful restaurateurs from around the world, though with an understandable slight emphasis on the UK. Mr Lander is particularly well qualified to write such a book, as prior to his position as restaurant critic at the Financial Times he set up L'Escargot, an iconic Soho restaurant, in the 1980s. Indeed the opening chapter of the work, covering the early days of L'Escargot, is perhaps the most engaging of all, based as it is on first hand experience. There are one or two small quibbles; there are a few editing slips (e.g. the incorrect use of "disinterested" instead of "uninterested"), and I would have liked to have heard a little more about the failures as well as the successes. All but one of the restaurateurs featured has had to close at least one of their restaurants, and in many ways analysis of the reasons for such failures would be every bit as interesting as documenting their many successes. However these are minor niggles, as Mr Lander unveils some genuinely interesting stories as he interviews the very different restaurateurs in his book. Above all, his own passion for the business comes through strongly. This is a healthy balance to the glut of books about celebrity chefs, and well worth a read.