On the face of it, I’m occupied with the two restaurants - Pied a Terre and L’Autre Pied - which are my main concerns. I don’t cook, so I’m not in the kitchen, but I do a lot of the ‘HQ’ stuff, managing payroll, expenses, bookings and so on from a little two-desk office upstairs. I've spent a lot of time front of house, naturally.
To give you a flavour, this week has been a busy one. I’ve had a meeting with someone from the Rare Tea Company, looking into what we may introduce in the restaurants. I’ve met a journalist from the International Herald Tribune, I met up with a client for my consultancy work, whom I’ve known for 20 years.
The consultancy work can be anything from acting as a bit of a telephone directory to help clients get in touch with the right contacts (suppliers, planners, recruiters etc), or the non-executive directorships I hold.
I’m a non-exec for two companies (confidentially), and I find it incredibly intellectually rewarding.
With non-exec roles you’ve got to commit to your six days per year or whatever it is, and that means making sure you’ve read the notes ahead of meetings, read up on what’s affecting the relevant industry, and then hopefully giving some sound impartial advice to the directors of the company.
I pop up at least once a year on Masterchef as one of ‘the professionals’ to give some comment, and, a while back, I was involved for two years in the BBC series Restaurant, as an inspector. It was a nerve-wracking experience, but it was definitely fun. You worry about saying something stupid - there’s a lot of pressure with seven cameras and a lighting rig pointing at you, but it was fun and I would definitely do TV work again if the opportunity came up.
As a result of having done that TV show, we ended up opening the London Cocktail Club bars. We agreed to do some kind of deal (bar or restaurant) with the winners of the third series of restaurant, and the two guys that won now run our cocktail bars.
I also juggle a stake in a rotisserie chicken concept restaurant in London and a stake in a brewery in Harrogate, so there’s a lot to keep an eye on. I like to focus mainly on my two restaurants, so after a while, I decided to give up my directorship of the London Cocktail Club bars and just become a silent shareholder.
Even though there’s such a mix of stuff going on, though, I still do the school run with my daughter every morning, and I go swimming three times a week to try and keep fit - that can be tough when you’ve got access to such delicious food.
By 10am I’m at the restaurant having meetings or catch ups as described earlier, but also checking a lot of emails.
My advice to any would-be entrepreneurs is don’t be scared of employing the brightest person you meet. When you employ excellent people, they are going to challenge you but often they will come up with something very insightful about the business and it could be something you’ve missed. If you surround yourself with very bright people, you raise your game.
To learn more about Pied A Terre, check out: http://www.pied-a-terre.co.uk/gourmet-food