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MAY: quintessentially London - exhausting and exhilarating

This post is late. Which is in keeping with the theme of the post. It's been just another manic month...

May has been quintessential London. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I am exhausted. I am emotionally, mentally, professionally exhausted. And that is what London does to you. The hustle, the bustle and opportunities and the compete an utter fun and equal measures of bullshit, that this town throws up.

So here is a run down  of some of the stuff that has happened, places I have been (like Le Gavroche!) and some thoughts on those happenings.

(This post was written mainly on a bus - bound to be many typos etc. Soz.)

Sushi Samba and the importance of an organised guest list
The month started with an event at Sushi Samba. I work part time at a law firm, and one of my major projects each year is a big event, for approx 350 - 400 people. This year was my 8th one. I admit I was weary; every time I have been to Sushi Samba the staff have been rude, the queues to get a drink enormous and then a 15% service charge for your troubles. BUT - the service on the night was an absolute highlight. In the run up to the event, the events team were fantastic and the tasting had been the best tasting I had ever been to. 

The event was a huge success, some fantastic praise and; piss-y emails from people the next day because they hadn't replied/not read their emails/ missed their invite or such like and had obviously heard about the event and wanted to blame someone for their disorganisation for not being there. These emails are annoying, but you only receive them if you've created a great event.

A great event is many things - but it does include organising the guest list well; it involves making sure certain people have been told at certain times, that people have been reminded about the event at certain times and have been encouraged to come not just by the invitee (me/my team) but by others. There is a lot of connecting which guests knows which host and even writing emails for people to copy and paste. Thoughtful organisation is the key. A good venue is only 40% of the deal. 

CoT and the art of listening
Series One of Chefs of Tomorrow ended at L’Escargot in Soho. It was wonderful, once again capturing the feeling of people working together, having fun and making the night work. As ever, the food was a joy and chefs wonderful. FOH at L’Escargot were fantastic and the guests had a ball. And of course, the setting was beautiful. I could gush forever… 

One of the wonderful things about this project has been the supportive collaboration. One of the things that has been important about this project for me, was getting to work with amazing people. Not just Dan and Ming, but of course Dan and Ming are starring roles in this project. 

Firstly though, this month I come up against a wall in other areas of my career. I am happy for someone to disagree with me, but to not be listened to and to not have my perspective taken seriously is not nice, particularly when you have done the work, the research and have the experience.

Secondly, when doing a PhD you spent four years concentrating on what you are not doing well/right. You don’t have time to be praised for the paragraphs that are good, you just need to know how to make better work. This is quite a demoralising feeling over time.

Therefore, working with both Dan and Ming has been amazing, they have re-built my feeling of self worth within a professional environment and are of course inspiring individuals - they have big brains and great thinking! The main reason for this is that they are both listeners. They listen to my madcap ideas, take it that I have come to these ideas for a place of knowledge - they question, add to the thinking and encourage. It’s been such a wonderful experience. Very special people. Listening is such a key to being a good mentor and a support. 

I must add that my (law firm) boss Elisabeth is also an amazing mentor - for very similar reasons. She's put up with me for over eight years!

I also took on an intern this month, Krista, who is fantastic. She loves spreedsheets. This has also been a learning curve for me. I have to think about all the things I do instinctively so that I can explain how and why I do certain things. It is good to have to think about what you do, and try to explain your reasoning - makes you realise how much faffing about you do!

This means that I have realised that within my professional world I’ll be damned if I am put into a position where I stop learning and stop being positively challenged, I want to keep growing.

Le Gavroche & wine
Ok so, this was amazing. The food impeccable, a masterclass of how food can be exacting and perfect. I meet Rachel Humphries who I think is very cool! And almost ran smack into Michel Roux Jr as we arrived. The evening was an experience. 

For me, the highlight was the wine (we didn’t go for the tasting menu, long story) so had a 2012 Domaine Bernard Moreau, Chassagne Montrachet to start, and a Nuit-Saint-George 2008 with mains. The Pinot Noir followed so naturally and perfectly from the Chardonnay. It was a journey beside the food, as oppose to matching, and that I thought was interesting and a revelation. Thinking about the wines in tandem and not for the food, their own story.  

There has been a slew of birthdays and meet ups with wonderful people. All have involved good eats, great chats - Mission for Brunch, Primeur for snacks and wine, Mission for dinner (double desserts as per), Jones & Sons for comfy great food and wonderful service, Jose Pizarro (Broadgate), the launch of Yauatcha in Broadgate  - which gave me the opportunity of sitting down with colleagues and properly talk, we are usually to busy for that. Talking and listening to your wonderful friends is just a treat!

Being zen 
The main learning from this month though, is that some things I have no control over. I had to let things go. This is much harder than you think. Once I began to “give no fucks”, things started to fall into place.

On Wednesday it got confirmed that the play I’m writing (Don’t sing in the kitchen, or you’ll marry an old man), that had been accepted into the George Town Festival in Penang, will be basically fully funded. We just need to raise money for the set/props. Then, coincidentally I spoke with a friend and organised a space that we could use to hold a fundraiser for the play! My friend is opening a bar/event space in Ropewalk st/Maltby St; it’s going to be beautiful. Alec (@mralecjames on twitter, follow him!) has great taste/aesthetic and is basically building it all himself. He’s also very funny and incredibly smart. 

So I am going into June learning to be zen. To - Give. No. Fucks. Well, of course the opposite is true but; I have learnt to state reasons, ideas, thoughts and let them be - walk away. Which works as a thinking process, think about what I want and need and then let it sit in the back of my mind to develop and grow, so when I see an opportunity (such as Alec talking about his new bar) I can connect the dots and make things happen.


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