Jason Atherton is chef-director of Maze in London and the recently opened Maze Cape Town at the One&Only Resort. He spoke to Amanda Afiya about the venture and hosting a dinner with the finalists of last year's Great British Menu series in aid of Hospitality Action
Caterer Tell us about the launch of Maze Cape Town
Jason Atherton We've had a fantastic response so far; people have been raving about it. Most nights we've been doing between 150 and 180 covers - at 170 seats it's a big old monster. And the space, designed by Adam Tihany, is beautiful.
Caterer How is it different from the other Maze restaurants?
JA We've had to learn how the South Africans like to be served. They're very laid back, and will often sit and study the menu for half an hour before ordering anything. In London some people like to be in and out in an hour.
Caterer What sort of ingredients are you using?
JA The produce here is fantastic. For the first time in a Maze restaurant, we've got a cold seafood bar, with local produce such as Saldanha Bay oysters and Cape crayfish, plus a cooked seafood bar with Mozambican tiger prawns and langoustines. We've also brought in elements of the steak model from Maze Grill alongside a tapas section, so the whole thing is like a fine-dining grill concept.
Caterer Are you still planning to open Mazes in other countries?
JA We're opening on the Pearl development in Doha, Qatar, this autumn and in Melbourne early next year at the Crowne Casino. I want the overseas Mazes to have plenty of local produce on the menus so Doha will be 50% sexy Arabic food.
Caterer As well as running the Flora London Marathon in aid of Hospitality Action, you're putting together a dinner alongside the finalists of last year's Great British Menu. What do diners have in store?
JA I feel I'm in a position now to give something back to the industry. Despite the fact that I left school with zero education, I ended up in hospitality and, by working hard, I've been able to make a good career for myself. Many of us who have taken part in the Great British Menu series have benefited from it with a book deal or further exposure, so I thought I would bring together the finalists from last year to host a dinner for Hospitality Action.
So Glynn Purnell, Stephen Terry, Chris Horridge, Nigel Haworth, Tom Kitchin and Danny Millar are going to be joining me to put on a dinner at the London Marriot Hotel Grosvenor Square. Some diners will have golden tickets under their chairs, we're planning to have a silent auction and we're hoping to auction off some of the chefs.
Caterer Is there still time to buy a ticket?
JA Yes - the dinner is on 18 May so there's plenty of time. Tickets are £120 per head and are available from www.hospitalityaction.org.uk.
- Win two tickets to Hospitality Action's fundraising dinner, hosted by Jason Atherton, by entering our competition on our new networking forum, Table Talk, at www.caterersearch.com/tabletalk