The first episode of Million Pound Menu on BBC Two last night saw young restaurateurs Ruth Hansom and Emily Lambert battle to secure investment from two investors.
Hansom and Lambert made it to the show from more than 400 hopefuls looking to gain investment for their businesses. The duo, who met while working at the Ritz London, were seeking at least £600,000 investment to open their restaurant Epoch in London’s Mayfair.
They went head-to-head against ShrimpWreck – a street-food stall from Scotland run by 26-year-old Ewen Hutchison – in a heat which saw both restaurants come to life for three days.
The two investors Hansom and Lambert pitched to were Lydia Forte of the Rocco Forte Hotel group, and chef, entrepreneur and owner of Benares restaurant in London’s Mayfair, Atul Kochhar.
These are five things we learnt about Epoch from watching the show.
1. It will serve exclusively British produce
“Our main aim is to bring together the best British farmers, wine producers and craftsmen in order to bring you the most unique British experience possible.” Hansom said in the programme. Lambert later explained that even peppercorns aren’t used because they’re not British. Instead dehydrated horseradish is used as an alternative.
2. The meaning behind Epoch
Epoch means “the beginning of a period in the history of someone or something”. Hansom explained that their partnership and business plan is “the start of a historical period”.
She continued: “Within both of our professions, we think we’re kind of helping to get the ball rolling with moving women forward in the industry.”
3. The price of dishes
Due to the high-quality produce sought out by Hansom, such as the scallops which are hand-dived and not dredged, smaller dishes will be priced between £15-£18 and main courses from £20-£27. “We want to support the small-scale people who are going to find it hard to sustain themselves.” Hansom said. “Grouse is £26, which people might think is crazy but it’s a bird that’s only available for three months of the year.”
Lambert later predicted the average spend for lunch would be £65-£70 and £90 for dinner with food being weighted at £40 and £20 for beverages.
4. The design
For the show, both teams worked with a designer to bring their restaurant to life. Epoch is designed with navy walls, rose gold lighting, wooden tables and chairs and copper decorations. “We want it to be very homely. We just want to give you really good food, really good wine and make sure it comes together,” Hansom said.
5. They’re going to blow everyone away
Before committing to invest, Kochhar said he would offer anything between £750,000 to £1m. Speaking about Hansom’s cooking, he said: “She may only be 22 but she cooks like someone who is 45. Her understanding, her depth, her precision is just mind-boggling. I’m blown away.”
Forte, who decided not to invest, said she “wouldn’t blink” if she saw those dishes on a two-Michelin-starred menu tomorrow.
Aged just 22 (Hansom) and 20 (Lambert), the team were described by Kochhar as “the shining light for years to come” and said their ambition and professionalism was a credit to them both. “In this industry it doesn’t matter how young you are, if you put your mind to it you can do it.” he said.
Million Pound Menu, presented by Fred Sirieix, general manager of Galvin at Windows in London and maitre d’ on Channel 4’s First Dates, airs every Thursday at 9pm.