Buy local fish or buy consistent fish - celeb chef in the news

Rick Stein seems to be in a spot of baddish publicity.

Tricky question.

I like Stein. I have several of his books (and use them from time to time). Been to his restaurant (which we thought somewhat overpriced and playing on his fame more than quality). But I like his persona - I really can;t think of another celeb chef that I’m sure I’d enjoy an evening with (although he is a rugby, rather than football, fan).

My experience parallels yours after eating at a couple of his Padstow places. I did enjoy his earlier TV programs but feel he has gone off the boil and IMO he shows little insight into the food of the countries he visits.

But given the number of restaurants he now has in Cornwall it makes sense to use a wholesaler. Day boats from single ports just won’t deliver a consistent volume and range of fish. And the wholesaler is still in Cornwall and buys from local fishermen so its not as though he is shipping in fish from Nine Elms (London).

I suspect the criticism is really a disguised criticism of “the Stein effect” - the gentrification of little Cornish villages. I found Padstow to be interesting, certainly their are a lot of Stein businesses (Restaurant, Bistro, F&C, Cafe, Hotel, Gallery etc etc) owned by Rick and his family (including ex wife Jill).

But it also had great, if not better, places run by other chefs like Paul Ainsworth and Nathan Outlaw (in Rock). I suspect without the Stein effect these other chefs would struggle…and aren’t they all Stein alumni?

Good analysis, Phil.

My peeve with the Seafood Restaurant was with one dish on the tasting menu which, I reckon, set my judgement on the place. I think that if your menu says “scallops”, then the dish should be in the plural not the fucking solitary lonely thing sat on a plate, with a drizzle of sauce around it.

…similar to the places that cut them in half to make it look like more.

He has a place in Aus now (its down on coast a few 100km south of Sydney) looks nice but charges like a wounded bull…not on my list better value to be had elsewhere IMO.

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And those that slice one thinly and call it “scallop ceviche”. One scallop, however presented, does not a starter make.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold