Book Signing Odyssey Brings Rick Stein To Town

Emma Brophy gets to meet one of her favourite food heroes

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Eating out in Chiswick

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Sam's Bar & Brasserie
11 Barley Mow Passage, Chiswick W4 4PH Tel. 020 8987 0555

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“Since the first day I worked with Rick down in Padstow, I have always looked upon him as a mentor and a great inspiration” says Sam Harrison of Rick Stein.

I’ve never had the pleasure of working with the accomplished chef and food hero advocate, but he has sort of been my mentor via his numerous cook books I have employed. So when Sam told me that Stein was coming to Chiswick, I took the opportunity to have a chat.

Rick Stein makes no secret about his partiality and admiration for his protégé and business partner Harrison but I wanted to know about their business. Why does he believe their bar and brasserie manages to hold it’s own, with such style and acclaim, in an area so cluttered with culinary competition? Other establishments have famous names behind them, so what is it that sets Sam’s apart?

“Well it’s Sam,” he shrugs as he sips his beer between signing books, “He’s just so personable.

“He’s got an idealistic view about what good service is about, how it should be informal but professional which is something that’s lacking from other places. He believes, like I do, that good service is as important as good food.”

“And he’s serious about what he does,” he adds after a second’s pause, “you’ve got to be serious in this business, it has to be the most important thing in your life.”

Although a recent survey found that diners were tightening their belts financially, it also noted that there hadn’t been a huge drop in eating out. However, that was before ‘Meltdown Monday’. What affect did Stein feel these latest events would have on them?

“Sam’s is well priced, but it’s more than that, it's more than just about pricing, he states "People round here feel a sense of ownership of this place”

"Even when people have reduced spending power, they still want to go out and forget their troubles and Sam’s is just the kind of place where locals want to come.”

September 18, 2008