Nick Munier is the former manager of Marco Pierre White‘s Belvedere restaurant and stepped into the limelight as maitre d' of ITV's Hell's Kitchen. He talks to Kerstin Kühn about being on the show, which ended on Monday.
What was it like working with Marco again?
Fantastic. Working with Marco and the other boys in London was really special and coming back to work with them again was great - a bit like rejoining a rock ‘n' roll band.
How long was your working day at Hell's Kitchen?
Front of house started at 10am and we finished at 1am, so it was a pretty long day. In terms of the work it was exactly the same as running any restaurant and we really focused on keeping our professionalism and on treating it like a normal restaurant.
How does it feel being in front of the cameras?
After five minutes you forget they're there. You're there to do a job and serve your customers and make sure they're happy. I think most of the diners forgot they were in a studio and just felt like they were in a normal restaurant.
How were the celebrities in the kitchen different to normal chefs?
The main difference was that they came into the kitchen completely clueless and had no idea what to expect. The mentality of chefs is different to that of normal people and when they're in service and are under the pressure of running an organised chaos the atmosphere can get quite heated, which initially the celebrities found quite difficult. But they all got into it, really started to enjoy it and actually got to a point where none of them wanted to leave.
What were the celebrity diners like?
Some of them just hadn't a clue about food. You'd think that being celebrities they'd be accustomed to eating in fine-dining restaurants, but a lot of them were really uneducated, which to me was a real eye-opener. Some of them played up to the cameras, like Carol Thatcher, who tried to get Marco to sign a copy of Gordon Ramsay's autobiography. Marco had no idea who she was so ignored her, but once he realised she was Margaret Thatcher's daughter agreed to sign a picture of himself for her mother. Boy George was a great guest and gave us so much praise and really appreciated everything.
Your best and worst moments?
The best part of the experience was working with Marco and the boys again and reliving the magic. The worst part for me was the silliness and ignorance of some of the diners.
Is Barry McGuigan a worthy winner?
Both Barry and Adele [Silva] were incredibly hard-working, and while perhaps Adele was more focused, I guess Barry had a bigger fan base. Barry was a lot more nervous and although he had less help from sous chef Tim Payne, his presentation was better and his famous mashed potato saw him through.