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Andrew Kay’s Top Table: Pascere – Interview with Amanda Menahem and Johnny Stanford

In the shortest of times Brighton newcomer Pascere has not only won the hearts of local food lovers but has also garnered rave reviews in the national press. I went along to meet owner Amanda Menahem and Chef Johnny Stanford, not only to taste their food but also to find out more about the people behind this success.

AMANDA MENAHEM

Andrews Kay: Opening a restaurant takes you from being a serious food lover to a serious player on the other side of the table. Why?
Amanda Menahem: I couldn’t not. I spent years admiring venues and noticing the details that make places work. I spent years observing what can go wrong from the customer perspective. I have a strong customer service ethic and a desire to make a difference. This goes back to my early years as a barmaid and years spent in retail management. I felt a strong urge to put this into practice. It’s crazy, a risky, difficult business but something I needed to do.

AK: How long was Pascere in planning? Was it easy to find the right chef?
AM: In my head, years! In reality about a year and a half. There are so many fantastic chefs with many different styles. At the heart of my vision is striving for perfection and being the best we can be, but not in a stuffy way, after all, a burger can be a perfect burger! I just needed to find a chef who had the my same high standards, bought into my vision and someone I would enjoy working with. So much is about personality and trust. I was incredibly lucky to find Johnny.

“Focused, driven, refined, comfortable, fun, elegant, humble, best, team, ever”

AK: How involved were you in the design of the restaurant?
AM: I was a total control freak! I pored over and chose every detail.

AK: Has your previous experience been useful?
AM: I found myself drawing upon my business experience more than I thought I would. My strong hands-on understanding of how to recruit, develop and build a team has also been extremely useful. Now that we are open I know what analyses we need, what reports to look at and the need to control and manage costs. I won’t always get it right but having that experience definitely helps. I do also recognise that there are huge gaps in my knowledge having never opened a restaurant before. Luckily I have a capable and supportive team.

Read the full article in The Latest here.