Here Comes the Judge…Judge B
Introducing another of the NRBA judges, Judge B has been involved in the restaurant industry for over 18 years and credits run from the SimplyFood website to Restaurant Magazine and she now freelances for several national food titles.
Here’s what Judge B has to say:
Q: Do you have a favourite restaurant or favourite foodie town?
My favourite restaurant is a tricky one, but I’d say Wyatt and Jones in Broadstairs. We first went to Broadstairs eight years ago when my eldest was six months old. We immediately fell for its old-fashioned seaside charms, but, and this was a big but, for someone who loves food as much as me, the food was pretty awful!
There were generic Italian restaurants, Indian restaurants, etc. and at one stage a tiny cafe where you could get fantastic crab sandwiches but it was very poor, considering it was by the sea and was really lacking in somewhere selling simple, proficiently cooked seafood. Imagine then our delight when Wyatt and Jones, an independent family run ‘cafe’ opened. It’s got a superb location, in the nook of the street looking out to sea, or more accurately Viking Bay. It’s tiny and modestly decked out but everything, from the coffee to take out for a stroll on the beach to delicious lunches and dinners using tonnes of Kentish produce, including a very good wine list, is carefully and lovingly executed. The children’s menu is sensible rather than dumbed down – just simple dishes like ham, mash and greens last time we visited.
Q: Are you a fan of events such as the NRBA?
Of course, these events are brilliant for the industry! Outside of London, restaurants don’t get enough recognition and are often ignored by the wider press, so this helps everyone up their game with a little healthy competitive spirit, whilst allowing restaurants to showcase what they do that’s special and unique.
Q: What do you look for when assessing a venue?
When judging I look for honesty and integrity in the food and in the service. I think the flavours should sing out, if its technical it has to be to a greater end, not just to appear fancy or impressive. Likewise service, I look for friendly waiting staff, who are clued up, but if they don’t know something a customer asks, to go away and find out, not just try to blag it!
Q: Do you have any advice for anyone looking to launch a new venue?
I think my advice would be just to work out what you want to do and how best to do it, so that every customer goes away having had a great experience. Easier said than done perhaps, but pay attention to the little details and don’t overstretch yourself or get too carried away with what you think you’re supposed to be doing.
Q: Any quirky tales or situations from your time of being a judge?
Probably numerous anecdotes regarding judging but my favourite was probably in Scotland judging College of the Year Awards about a decade ago. The colleges knew we were going to be coming and were all told to treat us exactly the same as anyone else, but the students couldn’t seem to help themselves and we got so many extras, from little appetisers we hadn’t asked for, to, in the most extreme case (and which really tested our professionalism as we had a bad case of the giggles) when there were, and I kid you not, balloons and confetti on our table and they played a special entrance song as we walked to our table. They didn’t win btw as we felt it was a bit OTT and detracted from the food, so the moral is treat everyone the same and don’t try too hard!