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Tagged ‘Interview‘

NetworkTen: Bruce Millar

Bruce Millar Header Image

1. Hello, who are you?
Bruce Millar, the main writer on The Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants. I also contribute to and help edit The Sunday Times’s two other restaurant supplements, covering the best 130 places around the country where you can eat for £20 and “around the world in 80 meals” — the best ethnic restaurants in Britain.

2. Tell us a little about your publication and your role within it…
We publish in association with Harden’s Guides, using their tried and tested methodology for collating marks and reviews sent in by thousands of genuine diners who have spent their own money on eating out. So we believe that although enjoyment of a meal is subjective, our ranking is as objective as it is possible to get. My role is to visit restaurants selected from the 100 and interview the chefs. I am not writing a review but describing what is special about each restaurant, and why our voters have chosen it.

3. Recently The Times editor John Witherow shared his expectations for 2016 and predicted “the resurgence of print”. Have you seen evidence of this already?
It certainly appears that the long and steady decline in newspaper print circulations as at last levelling off. Online has all sorts of advantages in terms of speed, convenience and accessibility, but I think people may be realising that it is not considered, edited or mediated in the way that good serious newspapers are (precisely our mantra for producing Social Media content for ourselves and our clients;  consider, edit and mediate and nothing less – Krista Booker, Director, Fourteen Ten). Much of the content of social media is like being shouted at in a bar.

4. Martin Ivens, Editor of The Sunday Times, said: “Our readers already enjoy a great package… The Dish adds extra spice to the mix, satisfying the thousands of them who have a love for all things food.” We have enjoyed the launch of this supplement, is it here to stay and are there any plans to develop it?
Interest in all aspects of food and cooking keeps on growing, and the Sunday Times is sure to go with it. I’m not privy to the commercial decision-making, but I can only see The Dish developing further, in whatever form that may take.

5. What makes a good PR approach?
Interesting, restrained copy with a decent amount of factual detail that shows some insight into the product it is promoting, as well as some insight into my requirements as a journalist, is always appealing. Soft-sell is always preferable to hard-sell.

6. What makes a bad PR approach?
Breathless and cliche-filled copy full of hyperbole is always underwhelming. If it’s sprinkled with spelling mistakes, I assume it was written by a know-nothing school-leaver on work experience — and that the executive responsible was too busy lunching a client to do the work. (thank you for raising this Bruce, these are practices Fourteen Ten work very hard to avoid, in fact we tend to take our Interns with us on said lunches – David Farrer, Director, Fourteen Ten)

7. What was your restaurant moment of 2015?
Too many to count. But if you insist… well, finally eating at L’Enclume after reading about it for so many years was wonderful — 18 courses at lunchtime, and I didn’t feel stuffed. I had eaten at Sat Bains in Nottingham before, but he came top on our list this year, and it was great to catch up with him and eat his brilliant cooking again. And I had never tasted with such intensity as I did at Araki — it was a revelation to eat sushi prepared in front of my eyes by one of Japan’s greatest masters, now working in London. And it is amazing how expense powers your concentration… A fortnight in the summer in Tokyo and on the Izu peninsular a bit further south included at least half a dozen great restaurant experiences — including a place where you catch your own fish in a big tank before the chef slices it up for you. The standard is extraordinarily high because all Japanese are serious foodies, so a bad restaurant will soon go out of business.

8. We understand you have a keen interest in Japanese food, which is your favourite Japanese restaurant in London and why?
I really enjoyed Koya in Frith Street, now closed but replaced by Koya Bar. And Namban in Brixton is a great addition — opened by an American fan of Japanese food.

9. We’ve seen trends for dishes such as Yakitori, Okonomiyaki and more recently Ramen in London. Are there any new Japanese foods you expect, or would like, to take their turn in the limelight?
What I really like in Japan are the highly specialised restaurants. There are legendary places that only serve one dish, but it is perfect. I went to one tiny yakitoria that sold nothing but bits of chicken barbecued on sticks, but there were half a dozen chefs working flat out and probably 50 different items on the menu. That would be great in London…

10. What were you doing at 14.10 today (or yesterday)?
Eating lunch in the canteen: rice and beans that I cooked at home, for reasons of both taste and economy.

Thank you, Bruce!

NetworkTen: Tea Time In Wonderland

Tea Time In Wonderland

Our NetworkTen Q&A sessions help us to develop relationships with and listen to our media.

Here is what Tea Time In Wonderland have to say about their blog, exciting plans for the future, what makes a good (or bad!) PR approach and what they were doing at 14.10 today.

1. Hello, who are you?
 Bonjour, bonjour, very well thank you. I have coffee and triple chocolate cookies – I’m ready for everything! Hope the day is going well your side too!

2. Tell us a little about your blog

Friends used to come to London and ask me – Are they any boutique hotel in Camden? Which trendy restaurant do you recommend? Where can I go for an out-of-this-world cocktail? And so the blog was born – a happy place where you can find the extra in the ordinary, a little inspiration to make the day better. I’m often asked – what do you write about? Being French, food is central to my life. You might want to avoid my blog if you are on a diet! But mostly, beautiful things – little adventures around the world, street art in London… I like to surprise people.

3. How long have you been writing your blog?

5 years – I started when my son was born. It remained a hobby for a long time then served as portfolio, leading to new opportunities. I now freelance – a mix of travel writing, blogging, doing translations. Strangely, it means more working hours… but I love that every day is different. I might be going to a travel show in the morning, do a restaurant review for lunch, meet clients in the afternoon, before covering a cocktail event in the evening, start typing a post on my train back. The rhythm is rather fast paced, I get to meet incredible people. It makes you feel very alive.

4. What has been your most successful post and why?

My “20 ideas to enjoy the week-end in London”, which I post every Thursday is very popular. The one that got the most hits though was about a 23 Carat Gold body treatment at the Dophin Square spa… followed by Romantic ideas for London…

5. Which social network is the most successful in driving traffic to your blog?

Twitter – isn’t it fascinating how a picture, a tweet can go viral in no time? But I am hooked on Instagram, what a source of inspiration!

6. What makes a good PR approach?

Developping a relationship with the bloggers. If I feel generic/part of a huge mailing list, there is little chance I will feel very involved in the campaign. But sound passionate, make me part of the family and I’m in.

7. What makes a bad PR approach?

Getting my name very wrong and trying to push a product definitely not in the spirit of my blog. Do have a look at the site first. Morph suits or e-cigarettes for a cheerful foodie/travel blog? Not likely to work… It’s simple logic.

8. Do you have any exciting plans for your blog?

I’m considering e-publishing. I have revised three travel books for Hachette – US National Parks, Vienna, and putting the final touches on the London one. But being paper based, space is limited. So many places I would have liked to mention! So why not make one of my own with my favourite walks in London like Tower Bridge-Bermondsey-Maltby st and Druid St market?

9. What is the first site you check when you go online?

I’m always on the lookour for the latest trends so I go through Time Out-The Londonist-London on the Inside-Evening Standard Going out-A Little Bird-The Guardian every single day, in a row, in that order. Followed by my friend’s Farrukh’s Twitter feed – @implausibleblog – he takes amazing pictures/videos and is as much a cakeaholic as I am…

10. What were you doing at 14.10 today?

Editing pictures of a 4 days escape to Northumberland with Visit Britain for a future post. Such a gorgeous region – we walked along Hadrian’s wall, watched the stars, listened to a storyteller by a chimney fire, visited Alnwick Castle (where a Downton Abbey episode and part of Harry Potter was filmed) as well as Bamburgh castle with its incredible view on the sea. I can’t wait to go back and spend a few days walking through the countryside there!

Thank you to Coralie Grassin from Tea Time In Wonderland, we are particularly looking forward to reading about your favourite walks in London!