I decided to Do a geographical!, sell up my little bistro in Cape Town and move to London. There I registered at a temp chef’s agency. One may have been sent on a job to a simple cafe one day, a five star hotel the next and the giant airline caterers Marriott at Heathrow the next. Very good experience as well as a good tax break perk. Cash in hand at the end of the assignment!
On one rainy morning, or should I say normal London day, I received an assignment at a quaint little restaurant called The Double Dutch. It transpired that the owners were friends of Elton John. Bear in mind that this was in 1980 when Elton wasn’t really gay.!
Elton John Manager With a referral from The Double Dutch I was contracted to assist the chef of Elton manager John Reed at his magnificent brown stone mansion at Montpelier Square just over the road from Harrods famous store where we subsequently shopped with Johns credit card for almost everything including the dog food!
Harrods remains at the height of British luxury retail, attracting millions of loyal customers from across the globe with its unrivaled product selection, world-class service, innovative retail theater and historic setting.
The store was opened in 1849 by Charles Henry Harrod as an expansion of his humble East End grocery and tea business. Today, it is one of the most distinguished names in the world. Seven floors and 330 departments showcase the best of luxury merchandise, from high-end fashion and accessories to the finest home wares and the latest technology.
There are 28 restaurants in-store; we continue to enhance our portfolio with Galvin Demoiselle, Bentley’s Sea Grill, and the institution that is The Georgian. Customers enjoy a wealth of exclusive services, such as By Appointment Personal Shopping and The Penthouse, a private suite dedicated to unsurpassed bespoke service in a beautiful environment.
Other departments include the Urban Retreat at Harrods spa, a theater ticket bureau, and The Studio, the store’s interior-design service. Qatar Holding acquired the business in 2010, and it continues to guide – and invest strongly in – the store according to its philosophy: Anything is possible. Harrods continuously seeks to surpass the desires and expectations of its customers, staying true to its original motto: Omnia omnibus ubique (everything for everyone, everywhere). Harrods is located on Brompton Road, near the Knightsbridge London Underground station. You can purchase anything from white Alba truffles to exotic pets in the pet store. Not so long ago one could buy a lion or tiger cub here
Only a small part of the food hall
John Reed was a fascinating character to say the least, a real dynamo, having landed both the contacts for Elton John and the group Queen. Also, founder of Rocket Records, the label for both Queen and Elton. Needless to say, he is a multi millionaire.
Elton John circle
By now I had my foot in the door and I was offered the position of executive chef for Elton new restaurant “Friends” in Covent Garden right opposite the famous Royal Opera House.
My task was to hire and train a brigade of 5 chef’s, plan the menu and get my head around the lavish opening party that was being planned. This was grueling night and day work. When the big night arrived the glittering buffet was ready, complete with ice and butter sculptures.
Police cordoned off the entire area for the arrival of the who’s who of the music scene, Rolling Stones, Ella Fitzgerald, Queen and many more making up the two hundred or so invitees. Elton was in full swing, adorned with one of his shiny sequined suits, one blue and one pink shoe, and of course the glasses. And who could forget Divine?
Divine drag queen
Actually Harris Glenn Mistead, known by his stage name Divine. Like a very fat version of Boy George, except totally bald, like a huge Buddha. One of the most amusing characters that I have ever met. On arrival at the buffet he immediately snapped the turret off the sugar castle that had taken me weeks to make, and munched it !
“Freddy Mercury there must be more life than this”-he famously said. We became good friends often hob-nobbing at the well heeled and trendy Monkberries night spot, on his tab of course! You have probably all seen the movie about him so no deed to elaborate on what a fantastic man he was.