There seems to be a lot going on in the media at the moment about the price of meals in some restaurants. It seems that some people feel restaurants are charging too much and then, fortunately, there are those that appose this idea.

I originally wrote the below post just before Christmas. I had just paid my solicitor a huge amount of money and we had a couple of guests question the bill. Have a little read and see what you think….

“How much would you be willing to pay for a great meal? Now I mean a really great meal with a great experience. Not just another restaurant. This isn’t a blog post trying to find out how high we can push our prices but trying to get an understanding of the opinions of our guests.

Let me give you some context. As many of you reading this will know we have recently moved our restaurant to our new venue in Tring. During this process I had to employ the services of a commercial property solicitor. This isn’t a dig at solicitors I’m just using them as an example. Now the solicitor is doing something that most can’t, right? Law is written in some weird old world language that most can’t/don’t/don’t want to understand. I’m one of these. I can’t act in law so I have to employ someone that can……at around £300 per hour! That’s a lot, like a lot, a lot! Rightly so though, they have a skill that is needed so they charge a huge amount for it.

Now lets go back to how much you would spend on a meal. When you have an exceptional, talented chef that creates stunning food what should they be paid? Take my head chef Scott Barnard for instance. He has worked hard his whole career, like many of us chefs working 70+ hours per week. Wow, 70+ hours per week chef’s must be loaded right? Wrong! They get a basic salary and that’s it. No overtime just the honour and privilege to work in a restaurant with a famous name on it.

Why is it that we are happy to pay a solicitor £300 per hour but our head chefs £10 per hour? Yes that’s right £10 per hour. When you break their ok looking salary down over 70 hours per week that’s what they get. I personally feel that an exceptionally talented chef, like Scott is at least worth £300 per hour. The only problem with this is that I would have to charge every guest at least £400 for our tasting menu. I’d love to hear who would be willing to pay this?

I don’t know what the answer is to this problem. I’m working hard to create a working environment that gives my chefs a better work/life balance while being able to function as a business. The reality is that chef’s aren’t just some unseen “staff” that are the lowest of low. It’s about time that we started respecting the staff that work so hard for hours each day to ensure that you are happy for your short time with us.

Don’t forget the amount we pay our staff only makes up a fraction of what you, the guest pays. When you see our £80 for the tasting menu you can deduct 20% instantly as we are glorified tax collectors for the government. That leaves us £66 to pay for the produce on your plate, the staff and all the other fixed overheads. So while you may think that it’s expensive and we’re making huge amount of money, we’re not. I’m not saying it’s not expensive. I fully expect a lot of people to think it is, I’m just asking for everyone to put the cost into perspective.

Here’s to the superstars like Scott and I only hope we find a way to keep them creating what they do!”

Thanks for reading, Luke