The Insiders: Food and Drink

27th June 2014

For the July installment of Riposte Presents we turned our attention to the finer details of the food and drink industry. London is host to an incredible restaurant scene, Londoners are spoilt for choice when deciding where to eat out. This is great for diners but how is it on the other side? What does it take to launch and run a successful restaurant? How do you carve out a niche for yourself in a massively saturated market? How do you get your message out? Do you follow trends or set them? And what do you do when things don’t go according to plan? To tackle these questions and a whole lot more we brought together a panel of insider experts including Charlotte Sager-Wilde, formerly of Sager & Wilde; Freddie Janssen, Lyle’s & F.A.T; Leila Fataar, Diageo; Missy Flynn, Rita’s; Pandora Symes, Rooted London and Zoe Paskin, The Palomar & The Barbary. Missy produced an amazing bespoke Smirnoff cocktail for the event that mixed roasted peach infused Smirnoff vodka with tonic water and fresh rosemary. 

Freddie Janssen and Pandora both talked about running a food start up outside of the traditional restaurant model. Freddie said the benefit of this approach was that you could test out as many things as possible with little risk.

"You have to be thoughtful about people. Food has
a lot of memories
attached to it."

The conversation turned to trends in drinks, Leila Fataar of Diageo gave brilliant insights into the direction that their brands were heading in and talked about the move towards spirits challenging wine as the traditional dinner accompaniment, "I love a really awesome mixed drink that enhances the food I'm having. I can't wait to see the day I get a beer, wine and cocktail pairing offered with my meal!"

The panel discussed a range of topics relating to life in the food and drink industry. We heard from Zoe, Missy and and Charlotte about their approaches to food, their place in the market and life as a restaurateur. Each had very clear and interesting points of view when it came to what they wanted to do which has been key to their success, as Charlotte said, “The idea doesn't have to be big. It just has to be yours!”

Missy and Charlotte talked honestly about the realities of running a restaurant in London. With Rita’s now closed Missy and her team are looking forward to new ventures and taking what they’ve learned through Rita’s to a new set up.

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As the panel wrapped up they all offered advice for new food start ups. Zoe of The Palomar said, "You have to be thoughtful about people. Food has a lot of memories attached to it."

"Important things? Toilets, lighting and music. Turn the music up and turn the lights down. Know your limitations and ask for help!" - Charlotte Sager-Wilde

"Be prepared to give it a really good go but you won't make money for a while!" - Freddie Janssen

"When people talk about the future of restaurants it's not that. It's the future of food! Where it comes from, the whole process. We need to be more mindful of this." - Missy Flynn

"Until someone pays you for what you're doing, it's only ideas." - Leila Fataar

“The idea doesn't have to be big. It just has
to be yours!”

Thanks to all our brilliant panelists and everyone who came to the event. We'll be returning in September with a focus on tech innovation, more details coming very soon. Keep an eye on our twitter and instagram for ticket details.

Huge thanks to Smirnoff for the drinks and ongoing support!