Fish, chips and rock ’n’ roll
What kind of music do chefs listen to off-duty? Is Gordon Ramsay into Finnish death metal? Is James Martin a drive-time soft-rock ballads kinda man? Does Michel Roux Jr have a penchant for obscure ‘90s ambient gabba?
This isn’t just a game the Music Concierge team play when there’s a lull in dinner conversation, it’s sometimes genuine, tax-deductible business research. Case in point: if we hadn’t thought about Tom Kerridge’s taste in tuneage before he launched Kerridge’s Bar & Grill at London’s Corinthia hotel last year, we could easily have killed the vibe before starters hit the table.
When you’re a chef with a name known up and down the country and written on the door of the restaurant, then your personality is front and centre of the brand. All your establishment’s touchpoints – the food, the decor, the tone of voice the menu’s written in – have to match what your customer knows about you or the atmosphere will feel off-key.
Music is particularly important in this regard. There’s a reason Raymond Blanc doesn’t play country and western and Nuno Mendes avoids acid jazz. They wouldn’t listen to this genres in real life, so if they came leaking out of the speakers in their restaurants, customers would clock the inauthenticity instantly.
West Country super chef Tom Kerridge is famous for wonderfully crafted, down-to-earth British cooking and a warm, approachable charisma. He’s a man with an easy laugh and a twinkle in his eye – pretentious he ain’t. The Corinthia is one of the most celebrated luxury hotels in Central London, with an international clientele accustomed to the finest of fine dining. If Kerridge’s Bar & Grill was going to work, it had to find the point of connection between the two.
Tom’s priority was, of course, ensuring the menu balanced his passion for British ingredients and hearty classic dishes with the refinement one would expect from a grand dame of the London hotel scene, but he knew also that the sound of the space had to follow suit. Music Concierge were brought in to translate Tom’s own tastes and personal musical heritage into a soundtrack that would complement the space and elevate the dining experience – making a man into a mixtape, so to speak.
“Music is a massive influence in my life.” Says Tom. “It can bring back a memory, or help you relax. That’s why it’s so important to get the right music to support your pub or restaurant. Music Concierge tuned into which music I liked and created some lush playlists for our guests.”
We drew on Tom’s passion for British bands to develop the playlists for the bar and grill, selecting and juxtaposing tracks to weave an atmosphere that was as upbeat, welcoming and accessible as the chef himself. Tom was so happy with it, he asked us to do the same for his Michelin-starred pub, The Coach in Marlow. Rock on.