‘5Questions’ ~ The Journalists, Andy Lynes

The 5 Questions today is from the Acting Editor of Food & Drink at Metro, Andy Lynes. Mr Lynes is a busy man, he’s a regular tweeter, blogger and by day food journalist as well. With a background clearly embedded in writing about food & the food industry, from being a semi finalist on Masterchef in 1997 to being a Glenfiddich nominated writer. He’s since also written feature pieces for The Restaurant Magazine and several articles for The Caterer, one on chef of the moment, Simon Rogan . Bit of a change from being a BT Auditor.

So here you have Mr Andy Lynes’s 5 Questions.

1.How do you feel the change in the media interest in chefs has influenced the industry?

I don’t think there has been a change since the early 90’s – the media has had a fascination with ‘celebrity chefs’ for nearly two decades and that has only intensified over the last 5 years or so with programmes like Great British Menu, recipe columns in papers and magazines and the endless stream of cookbooks. There have been rumblings about chefs not wanting to train fully and only being in the industry for the media spotlight for as long as I can remember. Whether that has actually had any impact on the industry or not I can’t really say. You could just as easily point the finger at the catering colleges who have apparently been producing chefs who are far from industry ready for decades.

2.How do you see the future of the printed media in the industry, with what seems the relentless march of blogging, social networking and the general internet?

No one can say where the printed media will be in five years time, but at the moment I work for a hugely successful publication (The Metro) and am savouring every minute while it lasts. Anyone who is currently only writing for the net and says they don’t want to break into print is lying.

3.What is your view of the guide books, relative to their impact and influence on eateries & the general public?

I have a real problem with guide books in that they have created an entirely false hierarchy in the British restaurant scene where for the most part only modern haute cuisine can score the highest marks. The idea that ‘molecular gastronomy’ for want of a much better term is in any intrinsically superior to classic French bistro food or the very best ‘ethnic’ restaurants is utterly laughable and is based on ignorance and a sheep mentality. Whether guidebooks, which don’t sell in large numbers, actually influences the general public I don’t know but I do think that there is a risk of young chefs believing that they have to emulate a certain style in order to win acclaim from the guides and their peers and I think that is affecting high end food for the worse.

4.What advice would you give to an aspiring chef or restaurateur looking to raise their profile?

First I would ask them to consider why they want to raise their profile. Often, a restaurant lives and dies by its regular, local custom. If they are having problems filling their dining rooms, they might be better off having a cold hard look at their offering instead of chasing the media in the hope of attracting customers off the back of an appearance on Saturday Kitchen.  That said, make sure you’ve got a solid product, engage a top London based PR company and go for it. But you’ll need a better story than ‘local and seasonal’ and you’ll need a media friendly chef, not one that hides out in his kitchen for 16 hours a day because he’s socially inadequate.

5.Who or what, do you think will be the next 3 big things to watch out for over the next 12 months?

I hate predicting trends, its mostly journalistic bullshit that requires you to ignore the wider overview and hone in on certain aspects of the restaurant and food scene. I could tell you that casual dining is on the up and will continue to be increasingly popular because I went to a tapas bar in Exmouth Market last night and it was brilliant. But have you noticed Le Gavroche, or Pied a Terre or The Greenhouse etc, closing their doors? The Dorchester Collection has just spent countless millions opening Coworth Park with John Campbell at the helm and although there’s a mix of offerings, the big deal is the fine dining restaurant.

Also, what’s happening in London gets disproportionate attention because the media is based there. Trends in the capital may take years to reach the provinces, or may fade away before they ever make a real impact. The Independent says fondue is making a comeback, but that’s only because there’s a big PR push behind Comte cheese at the moment for some unfathomable reason.  According to me, the next big trend is winter al fresco dining in the nude. You heard it here first.

Andy Lynes appears in Metro every Tuesday along side the writings of another 5 Question participant, Marina O’Loughlin. We obviously thank Mr Lynes for his thoughts and reply to the 5 Questions.

2 Responses to “‘5Questions’ ~ The Journalists, Andy Lynes”
  1. chumbles says:

    Thank you to Andy Lynes and also ChefHermes for the continuation of this excellent series; really good insights from some interesting people. Got to say, Andy, that your writing is pretty good and I enjoy it.

    As for fondue making a comeback (Comté cheese is much beloved of Raymond Blanc) they create hideous washing up!

    • chefhermes says:

      It’s a pleasure to bring the people that, in their own way help shape the catering industry.
      Having said that just can’t see the al fresco dining in the nude catchin on, some how.

      There are more to come as well, from some interesting writers.

      Many thx

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