Chef Atherton Delays London Restaurant to Open in Dubai, Sydney
Jason Atherton is delaying the opening of his next London restaurant until next year as the British chef focuses on his new establishments in Dubai and Sydney.
Atherton had planned to open his Japanese restaurant Sosharu in Clerkenwell in coming months but has now pushed back the date to Feb. 17.
"I'm here in Dubai for a month, with just one day back in London for my daughter's birthday," he said in an interview ahead of the Sept. 3 opening of Marina Social at the Intercontinental Hotel Dubai Marina. "I have to get this right and I do that by physically working in my restaurants.
"That's why you don't see me on TV much," says Atherton, who previously worked in Dubai running Verre for Gordon Ramsay from 2001 to 2004. "It's very important to me that wherever you go in the world, my restaurants are good. I don't want to build a shallow brand based on celebrity. I even hate the term celebrity chef."
No need to take that as a swipe at Ramsay: Atherton regularly pays tribute to his former mentor.
When Atherton returns to London, he plans a series of private dinners prepared by Sosharu chef Alex Craciun to test out dishes that are planned for the menu in Clerkenwell. After that, he will head to Sydney, where Kensington Street Social is scheduled to open in The Old Clare Hotel, in Chippendale, on Nov. 8.
Atherton currently has seven establishments in London: Berners Tavern, City Social, Little Social, Pollen Street Social, Social Eating House, Social Wine & Tapas and the Typing Room. That's in addition to restaurants in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore.
He has just opened The Clocktower in New York to rave reviews. The New York post headlined its review: NYC's best new restaurant is bold, buzzy and beautiful. The website eater.com described it as one of New York's best new restaurants.
"New York is very tough," Atherton says. "I was bowled over by the reception. I lived there for 3-1/2 months and made New York my second home to make sure I got it right."
Atherton says Dubai is one of his favorite cities as it was the first overseas city where he ran a restaurant. He has fond memories, from learning to play golf to meeting his wife Irha, who works alongside him as co-director at The Social Company.
Irha also runs the head office in Soho, London. Jason and Irha have two daughters and the family live in South West London.
The next restaurant he is planning after Sosharu is also in London, in Victoria. At last, he may get time at home.
Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Bloomberg. Follow him on Twitter @richardvines.
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