By Nicholas Lander

Phaidon Press 39.95 351 pages

It takes more than a good cook to make a great restaurant. A successful establishment – one that runs profitably, critics like, and customers return to time and again – requires a visionary manager who loves food, wine and people in equal proportion. According to the author, a weekly columnist for London’s Financial Times and a former restaurant owner himself, it also helps to have a good sense of humor, determination, and abundant energy. In this enjoyable compilation of original stories, Lander interviews 20 of today’s leading food service entrepreneurs who willingly offer advice, inspiration and some lessons they’ve learned. Although the names of these managers may not be familiar even to the most dedicated foodie, the restaurants they run (such as Nobu and elBulli) or the chefs they have employed (Ferran Adria and Alice Waters) will be. Each of the book’s sections contains a brief history of how these men and women got into the restaurant business, a description of a typical day, and some of the triumphs and disasters each experienced in a portfolio of diverse and interesting careers. This is hard, stressful work and the profit margin may be low for many years, but for the author and those represented here, providing “a great meal, good wine and charming service in good company” is the ultimate pleasure.

Reviewed By Linda Frederiksen

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