With decision time looming, Michel places his trainees under the spotlight like never before with a bespoke private dining challenge. What's more, this time Michel will be cooking.
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Michel Roux's mission to find two front-of-house stars of the future is now nearing its conclusion.
I guarantee we will get you to tell the difference between a Pinot and a Cabernet.
-He's taken his trainees from dishing up pizza...
-People are making up table numbers!
-There is no table 17.
-..via five-star hotel service...
A lad like me don't get an opportunity like I've got for something like this.
-..to the formality of Michelin-starred haute cuisine.
-We can do anything.
He wants all his proteges to fall in love with the industry,
but now it's close to Michel's big decision when he must choose just two to receive scholarships.
So this time Michel is putting his trainees head to head.
And they must set their sights on the stars.
If I have bad service, then I will kick off 100%.
-Do you want to do one and I'll do one?
London. Home to some of the most exclusive restaurants in the world and some of the wealthiest diners
and where increasingly those at the top end of the market bring the restaurant to them
by commissioning their own unique, personally-designed dining experience.
After our experience in Paris, I need to take them to the next level.
That level is bespoke dining.
It doesn't have to be fine dining, but it's for the rich and famous.
Bespoke service goes beyond simply delivering food to table.
It's creating an environment, designing an entire evening, tailor-made to the client's needs.
They could be serving caviar and gold leaf or they could be serving steak and chips,
but it's to the client's need and requirement.
Michel will give them complete creative control of this task.
To break the news, he's summoned them to one of London's most upmarket hotels.
He's brought along a specialist in customised dining, former Restaurant Manager of the Year, Peter Avis.
Morning, guys. You might be thinking to yourselves, "What next?"
-Well, tailor-made, bespoke dining.
It's personal, private dining.
Listening to the customer's wants, whims,
whatever it may be.
-If I can introduce you to Peter...
Peter is an expert at tailor-made dining.
Raised on a Liverpool council estate, Peter started out 17 years ago at the very bottom.
He's a model for what Michel hopes his trainees can aspire to.
This is where it gets serious, OK?
I've worked really hard to get where I am. If you're serious about hospitality, understand it's hard.
Currently I manage one of the best restaurants in London and we serve the biggest celebrities, big names.
Madonna, Christian Slater recently, Prince William, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice.
Then the man you don't know who works in the City and is worth more.
Whatever they want, you deliver. There's no such thing as no.
You're here because in two days' time this place will be transformed.
I have invited three of my very special guests to entertain seven of their friends.
They have three very individual tastes. Also,
I am going to be cooking three menus that you will be asking me to cook.
Ohhh! Oh la la!
With his decision growing nearer, Michel wants to give his trainees every chance to shine
in positions of real responsibility. Inside each of these envelopes are details of their VIP guests.
We are hurtling towards the finishing line at 100mph and this is going to test them.
Those scholarships are still up for grabs. I haven't made my mind up.
But whoever shines in two days' time here will have put a marker down.
-Who do you reckon it'll be?
-I doubt it somehow.
It's a girl.
Go on, Brooke, open her up, see what we've got.
No way! No way! No way!
-That's my idol.
-Is he coming? Shut up!
-I love him!
I love him!
"10 years as a pop star,
"Likes Japanese food, dislikes spicy food and patronising staff." I'm anything but patronising!
Oh, my God, just open it. I can't wait.
Who's that? I don't even know who that is.
How do you even say that? Dee-ar-mu-id?
He likes informal dining. Hates stuffy dining experiences.
I'm glad I'm serving him.
He grew up in the industry. His mother and father owned a restaurant.
Likes Chinese, Oriental, dim sum. Special diet.
-What's a pescatarian?
-Only eats fish.
Gok Wan, Diarmuid Gavin and Sophie Ellis-Bextor were invited by Michel for their love of eating out
and their distinctive ideas about good service.
Private dining comes with a cost. You pay for that service.
If you are paying to have a certain type of cuisine served to you, I want the rituals, the tradition.
If I don't get it, I feel short-changed.
I like friendly, attentive service. I don't like them disinterested
but I don't like it to be over-fussy
or to be very aware that I'm in a restaurant and people are looking at me all the time.
If it's a private dining experience and they haven't listened to you,
then they haven't done their half of the bargain.
Michel and Peter have brought the students to the Taste of London food festival.
Private dining is a new level of responsibility. They must take control of the entire evening.
So with 40 of the capital's top chefs in one place,
including Michel himself, they can tap into a vast reservoir of advice
-to help them plan their VIPs' evenings.
-Let's go in, let's go in.
By the end of the day, Michel wants them to come up with clear instructions about the menus
-they'd like him to prepare.
-Olive oils and stuff.
-We don't need olive oils.
After studying Diarmuid Gavin's likes and dislikes, Niki and Ashley are planning an Italian evening
and they've stumbled across executive chef Francesco Mazzei.
Nice to meet you. We just wanted to talk to you about Italian food.
We wanted to know what, for you, would be an outstanding Italian dish, starter and main.
OK, think of the summer now.
If I was you, I'd do a lovely simple English asparagus, steamed.
-Then pan fried.
Duck eggs, lovely pan fried with a little bit of marjoram and black pepper.
And then lots, loads of summer truffle.
Then I would love to have... Again, the best season for spring lamb.
-Whoa! That is amazing.
-Thank God we found that guy.
I love their black bamboo. I thought that was brilliant. We need to get some bamboo.
Brooke, Danielle and Tom are responsible for Gok Wan's evening.
-His brief specified a love of Chinese cuisine.
-We are creating a tailor-made dining experience
for a certain special guest. This is the type of food that they like.
Can you give us any tips for their experience?
-Let me show you what we're doing here at the show. It might give you a few ideas, yeah?
They make a useful contact in Steve Munkley, executive chef of Min Jiang in Kensington.
What we're creating here today is three dishes. One is dim sum.
That's one of our guest's favourites as well.
We're doing a seafood dumpling with a pumpkin skin on it.
They make pumpkin puree and the skin for a seafood mix.
Have a little try at that. Chilli sauce?
-What kind of dim sum is this?
-Basically, in there you've got scallops, you've got prawns,
a little bit of squid, all mixed together.
We should put this on the menu. That's what he prefers.
Our main priority is the experience. Is it possible we can borrow anything from your restaurant?
-Come by and have a look on Monday. Yeah?
-We will do, definitely.
Thank you, Steve. Take care. See you on Monday.
Not leaving any behind!
See you later! Thank you! Take care.
-Look at them. Let's go, let's go.
When I found out the group I'd been given, I wasn't overly keen.
They're quite hard to work with, but both seem passionate about it.
I'm passionate. I think we can work as a team.
-We're looking for Japanese!
-Knowing that Sophie Ellis-Bextor loves Japanese food,
Nikkita and James head for the Dinings restaurant stand and owner Nick Taylor-Guy.
-What's a traditional Japanese dish?
First you start with some sashimi. You know sashimi?
-Sushi is with rice, sashimi is without rice.
-What about things like table decorations?
Japanese tables are very simple. Focus should always be on the food, not on the table or the decor.
So you need chopsticks, a chopstick holder,
-a pot of soy sauce and a napkin. That's it.
Thank you. Bye!
With the research done, Michel is presented with ideas
for the bespoke menus he'll cook for the special guests in two days' time.
I love the menu. Sounds delicious. I want to sit down and eat it.
Well done, guys.
Their next challenge is to dress the tables in keeping with their chosen themes,
but first Michel has one more surprise.
Tomorrow we've got something lined up for you, something really special.
I'm taking you to Windsor...
For the Royal Polo Event.
Where I'll be watching the polo
-whilst you guys...
We're going to Windsor, guys!
There may even be a little smattering of royalty.
you are going to have to be at your very, very best.
For the last seven weeks, Michel's training has taken them from basics to the intricacies of fine dining.
Now that they're approaching the final hurdle, Michel wants to see just how far they've come.
I know that amongst them I've got some real jewels,
some great, great characters and some will go far.
The others, I'm not as yet decided. Putting them through this test
will definitely show me which ones have got the potential.
It's one of the biggest days in the polo calendar - the Royal Windsor Cup Final,
held each year in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen.
A polo match isn't something we attend every day. It's very special.
I'm sure none of my trainees have ever been to one.
There will be royalty here today, along with personalities, multi-millionaires. I feel nervous.
It's outside of my comfort zone. That's what I want for them.
Michel also knows that if the trainees take today in their stride,
it could prevent them being overawed when serving their own VIP guests.
Here we are, Windsor. The famous Guards Polo Club.
There are people attending here today who are paying a lot of money
and you've got to give them a polished service today.
But one thing, one thing that you must remember is your Ps and Qs!
From this moment, remember posture, the body language is essential.
-How we present ourselves to these people is massive.
-OK? Let's go.
The polo is already underway, but the main event is still to come.
Before the cup final, over 200 guests will be sitting down to lunch
with half of them there at the invitation of the sponsors, Dubai's Al Habtoor family.
It's an important day. We are the sponsor of today.
We have almost 100 of our guests here. This is our tenth year, so it's a great day.
The host has high expectations for the lunch
and it's down to the catering team, led by Kay Nolton, to ensure his requirements are met.
You have to remember they all have to be finished by three to watch the game,
so if you've got a table that comes in at two and you only have an hour, you must be on top of the game.
That means being quick, but also still offering a fantastic service to these customers, OK?
Michel will be observing
to see which of them successfully employ their training in the pressurised service.
-So here is your starter...
-Chef Merrilees Parker from caterers Pink talks them through what she expects.
It needs to go on the table like that. The way it's looking towards you is how it goes down.
It's that attention to detail that I want. That's the main course. That's the way it should go.
That is the lemon posset, its mint leaf facing towards you.
-Right, you need to get on to your station...
-And start meeting and greeting, yeah?
-How are you?
-1pm - two hours before the start of the cup final.
It might be a hospitality service for 200 people,
but at £85 per head, each guest expects close, individual attention
from those on their first visit to long-term members who could hardly be more part of the establishment.
-The Duke of Wellington.
-Hello. Hello, sir. How are you?
What's your sequence of service going to be?
Wines served, seated customers, bread done, cold starters.
-Sir, would you like still or sparkling water?
-Very still water.
My name is Brooke and I'll be serving you the wines this evening.
And there's the wine list.
We'll have a bottle of white wine, please.
Any white wine? Pinot Grigio?
A nice Pinot Grigio. Not too cheap, OK? All right?
-My kind of man.
-That's it, yeah.
For weeks, Michel has been stressing the importance of up-selling expensive wines.
-Not too cheap or not too expensive?
-He said "not too cheap".
-Then go big.
Now Brooke has an opportunity and she returns to the table.
Sorry, sir. I'm taking back my recommendation of the Pinot Grigio.
-I recommend the Domaine wine.
-The Chablis, yeah?
-Yes, it complements the salmon.
-Right, we'll have one of those.
-You'll have one of them? Brilliant.
Brooke has sold a very expensive bottle of wine which is great and she's beaming.
It's putting all those skills into motion.
-Fabulous. Nice, big smile there.
-I need three mains. The Lost Boys.
Danielle and Ashley are leading teams of plate waiters.
They need to ensure the right dishes go to the right tables precisely when they should,
but with the guests taking their places at different times, the job is harder than it sounds.
-What dish is it?
-You must establish if you're both talking about the same thing. Go back to the table.
-Then come back and talk to me.
-What's the dish though?
Vegetarian. I did tell you in the briefing. Poached egg, green beans, hollandaise.
The polo match starts in just over an hour and a lot of tables haven't even got their starters.
They've got to keep focus and keep delivering that food with a smile.
With places at these tables by invitation only,
the club is packed with some extremely well-connected people.
Used to getting what they want when they want it, no-one wants to slip up in front of these guests.
-Well done, dear.
-She did very well.
-Thank you very much.
-Can I have another vegetarian, please?
-He wants both.
-Tomorrow's service will be all about catering to the customer's every whim
and Ashley's guests are giving him some useful preparation.
He wants salmon and the mushroom as well. He wants...
-He's doing it on purpose.
-What did you say? "Of course, sir. No problem."
Can we have a salmon with mushroom?
-Because the bloke's got money, he thinks he can speak to me like I'm rubbish.
-You're not rubbish.
And like I'm something just scraped off his shoe. "Chop-chop, hurry up!"
With the 3pm cup final deadline looming, the trainees are keeping their cool.
-Would you like a top-up, sir?
I think my customers are happy and that's what I set out to do.
No glass is going unfilled. Plates are going down as the chef specified.
And Ps and Qs are being fully minded.
Can I pour you some champagne?
-Sir, would you like still or sparkling water?
-Still water, please.
The trainees are doing an amazing job. They've been really helpful and friendly towards the customers.
They've listened to the brief, put their training into practice and it's all come together quite well.
Can I have five of you guys, please? We're doing a table of 12.
Come on! I'm hoping to see someone round that corner.
It is a mad rush here, but they are smiling.
Danielle's beaming, in fact.
She's really enjoying this because it's putting into motion everything that she's learned.
-Is that all right for you?
-Wicked. Enjoy it!
I like it. It's going pretty well. I'm getting more confident. I don't find posh places difficult any more.
As service winds down, Danielle receives the ultimate seal of approval.
I can't believe Danielle. She was serving the top table there.
She had to lean right in front of the head man and he was giggling.
He turned around, gave her a big smile and high-fived her!
He gave me a high five and wanted a picture with me.
I wish I'd done my make-up beforehand. It would've been at least a decent picture.
-Did you enjoy your lunch?
-What would you have done if he said "no"?
-If he'd said "no"? Cried probably.
-Oh, that's so sweet!
-See you later.
The team have hit their 3pm deadline and despite the odd hiccup, the client seems satisfied.
Everybody is happy.
You guys have to be very proud waiters. You are doing a great job.
Well, guys, I think that you can be proud of yourselves. It was a very tough environment to work in today.
I think that they did an all right... I think they did a good job. What do you think?
-They did an amazing job. I can't fault any of you. Thank you very much.
-It's my pleasure.
What can I say?
-You guys deserve the brass band.
-There you go, it's all for you.
With service declared a triumph,
the trainees head off to pay their respects to this afternoon's guest of honour.
MUSIC: "Rule Britannia"
How do you feel, guys? There's the Queen.
-My heart is going, "Boom-boom, boom-boom!"
-You see? Amazing, huh?
-There she is there in the blue hat.
-Are we allowed to wave? No, you curtsey.
-Give her a wave.
-Do a curtsey.
-Curtsey to the Queen.
-Let's go back over, guys.
-Oh, what a shame!
She pointed at us. She started laughing at us.
-No, not laughing...
-You know why?
-It was cos we were dancing with the Guard people.
She knows that I have been training you, so she says, "Yeah, these guys must be good."
That was the most amazing thing in my life ever, I think, now.
It's the day of service.
Tonight, the trainees will be hosting bespoke dinner parties for three VIPs,
each one expecting a personally designed private dining experience to remember.
After you, Nikkita.
I think I've got our tactic. What? Just get them hammered.
Each team is in charge of their own budget of £200
from the colour scheme to the table settings and any other special touches.
How they spend it will be crucial to the success of the evening.
We've got this dinner tonight and the theme we're going for is kind of Japanese, oriental style.
Have you got any items that might be appropriate?
James and Nikkita will be looking after Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
She wants a sense of glamour, but nothing too over the top.
That's more of a centre piece and we can build stuff round that. Yeah, yeah.
Yeah. Before I change my mind, yeah.
Niki and Ashley will serve an Italian menu for gardening expert Diarmuid Gavin.
They too have plans for an impact centrepiece.
Do you reckon?
I think that's the best one. Or maybe this one.
That could go quite nicely with the...
This will be covered with flowers. Nobody will notice it too much, the colour.
They'll just be impressed it's a watering can.
On a roll with their gardening theme, Niki and Ashley make one last stop.
This is amazing.
It's going to come together now. It's all in my head.
Obviously, Chinese and Japanese, it's predictable. It's going to be feng shui, bamboo and all that.
But he's a gardener and he'll know how much effort we've gone to, running about all of London.
Brooke, Danielle and Tom are planning a Chinese themed evening for Gok Wan.
They're going to the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington to see Steve Munkley, the chef at the food fair.
-Good to see you.
-Come this way. We'll go up to the restaurant.
Is there anything you've got that we can borrow, take away or some ideas?
I certainly have. Where are we starting from?
Like tablecloths. I'm thinking of a "Chinesey" sort of one, like bamboo mats, chopsticks,
table arrangements, i.e, flowers, vases, water features, bamboo, preferably black,
coloured stones, candles, fortune cookies, things like that.
< Everything. We're going all out. >
Where I can help you the most is we can pretty much lend you the table setting.
Armed with an entire set of decorations, the team make a triumphant exit.
Wahey! Well done, guys.
We got everything and more. Nailed it.
We've got everything we need. We've exceeded expectation.
With the guests due to arrive in a little over three hours,
Michel's trainees know that what happens tonight
could play a big part in deciding who will be awarded scholarships from the Academy of Food and Wine.
Great. So are you up for this?
Three of my guests with three different themes.
I want them to leave here tonight and say,
"Wow, that was one of the best private functions we have ever been to!"
-I want them to tell all their mates and just rave about this.
"They will," he says! Good.
We're going to be doing a little tasting of the menu and the wines later on,
but you have got a lot of work, so I'm going to leave you
because I've also got a bit of work in the kitchens.
-Good luck, guys. See you later.
-See you later!
We need to get our tables set and make this room look absolutely stunning. Are you ready to do it?
-Let's do it. Let's go.
They've taken over two downstairs suites of the hotel.
Each team has one table which now needs to be transformed to bring their creative vision to life.
Are you ready for this, guys?
It's a completely different type of service. We've been given a bit of information.
We've been given a budget. I think we're going to do a good job.
They've been given a lot of ideas by a Chinese man.
We've just gone on our own ideas, not some restaurateur's idea.
Do you think it looks girly enough?
It looks ridiculously girly to an extreme...
It's not that girly. What, a pink flower surrounded by candles and petals?
They look a bit droopy. That's OK. Niki, what are you doing?
Massive mushrooms. Are you having a laugh?
Look at the size of that!
With the table settings taking shape, Michel calls the trainees into the kitchen
to discuss the menu he's created from the instructions they gave him.
-Looking good, Chef.
Niki and Ashley will be serving a four-course Italian menu to Diarmuid Gavin.
So we've got beautiful marinated olives, beautiful salami from Milan.
This is for when they first come in.
-Next, the starter.
-That is your duck egg.
Now, on the menu I have written down "a biodynamic duck egg".
-What is "biodynamic"?
-You know what "organic" is. It's taking it a step further.
It is using the solar system to plant and to rear your animals.
I love that. That's fantastic.
To help the trainees complement their menus with matching wines,
Michel has invited master sommelier Gearoid Devaney.
-What are we serving with this, Gearoid?
-A blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio from Tuscany.
-That works really well.
-For the main course, roast lamb with a medley of seasonal vegetables.
Oh, God, Michel, your food is lovely!
It is actually lovely.
Right, we need to crack on and taste lavender panna cotta.
So it's basically set cream, yeah,
flavoured with vanilla, drizzled with honey and a blueberry compote underneath.
-Are they Pringles?
-No, they're not Pringles. Pringles?!
I'm only joking.
That is the nicest dessert ever. I've never tasted anything like it.
-Wait till you taste that with the wine.
-That's nice, isn't it?
It's not too high in alcohol, so it's a nice way to finish.
Brooke, Danielle and Tom are presenting a three-course Chinese banquet for Gok Wan.
Let's start with the menu - dim sum.
Tiny bites that you put in your mouth and they're gone, exploding with flavours.
For the second course, roasted lobster and whole sea bass to be filleted at table.
-Look at me. I'm just following straight down the middle.
Lifting it off.
For dessert, a mango and lychee platter, accompanied by a Hungarian sweet wine
that Gearoid has specially selected.
Hungary has a long history of making great sweet wines and from the area of... See that funny word?
Yeah, it's really like syrupy and honey.
-I think you get some mango.
Finally, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and her guests will be served an ambitious, five-course Japanese menu
with a different wine, beer or sake for each course.
We have salmon tartare,
tuna, yellowfin tuna,
so it is the tuna that isn't endangered.
Bluefin tuna is endangered and I never use it.
I haven't used bluefin tuna for probably the best part of five or six years.
Edible gold leaf.
24-carat gold there.
-Oh, can I keep it?
-No, you can eat it.
-I want to keep it.
-It's an aphrodisiac.
-Can I KEEP it?
For mains, a selection of sushi.
You will need to have soy sauce on the table,
so little dishes for the soy sauce and sauce boats.
For the hot courses, Michel has prepared Angus beef skewers and tiger prawns,
followed by pink champagne and pink grapefruit sorbet with green tea ice cream
to be served with rose champagne.
-Rose with Pinot Noir and a bit of Chardonnay.
-Happy with your menu?
See you later. Thank you. Bye!
It's now down to the teams to make sure the finishing touches match up
to the quality of Michel's menu and their guests' expectations.
Where am I going to put this? In the middle?
It's going to look good, you know. Glasses on there, the candles lit.
It's subtle. It's not ostentatious or over the top.
With an hour to go until service, the students' mentor Fred Sirieix arrives.
With their increased responsibility, he wants to make sure
they've thought through every aspect of their guests' bespoke evenings.
So it's very important that you create this very intimate atmosphere for the guest
and you are not intrusive with the service.
It's their party. You come in and out and let them do their thing.
I can see the ornament you chose for the table.
I want to sit down to see how much space this takes.
Can you take a seat there, please, James?
Because you can see this is right in front of your face and my face.
And for this kind of table, I think the better thing to do
is to have an ornament which is about this high or maybe this high, so you can see each other.
You see? So I can see all these people but you.
Everybody who is opposite are going to have trouble seeing each other, so you have to be aware of that.
-I can see.
-You can see, but if James sits over there...
-Sit there, James.
Sit correctly on the chair.
-You will see...
-We haven't got time, Keets.
Can you see?
Fred is also concerned about the table decorations next door in Diarmuid Gavin's room.
This is a great bouquet, but this is a bit...
It's right in the middle of the table, so it might be disturbing for the guest.
So you may have to remove it after they've sat down.
What you can have is a bouquet like that which is beautiful,
so that when people come in, it's fantastic, a great impact.
-But because you can't see each other properly, there might be a problem.
-We've just spent 80 quid on that.
But people don't come to see the bouquet. They come here to spend time together, eat some nice food.
If this is in between them, it's no good.
Despite Fred's advice, both teams decide to keep their centre pieces in place.
At Gok Wan's table, Michel has made Tom maitre d'.
With three of them serving a single table, Fred wants them to be clear about their respective roles.
-Who is going to ask for starters, who is going to ask for the main course and the dessert?
-Ask for...to the chef when you want your starters, your main course and your dessert.
-I don't understand.
You've got to call away your starter, the main course and the dessert.
It's a private dinner. You tell him when you want the starter because everybody has pre-ordered.
Michel will be monitoring events from the kitchen.
I don't think they realise that I can hear them and I can see them.
It's 7pm and the guests are due to arrive.
Gok's team feel confident enough to take a last-minute break.
-Can we go for a last fag?
-As long as you're ready, you can go.
-Are we ready for our guests, people?
-Have you got all the drinks? Everything is on ice?
-Everything is ready and waiting.
But ten minutes later, Gok's team still aren't back.
I thought I would catch them smoking, but they've gone back in before I managed to catch them.
I hope they're ready. Gok's here. I just saw him get out of a taxi.
Tonight, I want my trainees to deliver perfect service
and I want my guests to be wowed by their personality, by the tables that they've set
and just getting it all right, 100% right.
First through the door is fashion expert and TV presenter Gok Wan.
It's paramount your server knows the food, the wine, all your flavours, before you enter the restaurant.
You want a host and if the host is no good, it's always going to be a bad show.
I can hear him. I can hear him.
Oh, don't, don't, don't!
If I have a bad service, then I will kick off 100%.
You of all people can do this.
The way you performed yesterday in front of the people was amazing.
This can change your life. I'm not joking. Look what's happened to me!
Enjoy it. You're not going to get this opportunity. It doesn't come twice.
-How are you?
-Very well. How are you?
-Very well, thank you. If you'd like to follow me...
-I love the flowers.
-The flowers are great. I love the black bamboo.
-I could do black bamboo in my flat.
-Good idea. Take it with you.
Next to arrive is singer and model Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
Atmosphere is about 70% and the food is more like 30%.
Even if you had the best food, if the atmosphere wasn't there,
it would be an empty experience.
Do a high five.
- Hi. - Hello. Good evening.
If you'd like to take a seat...
If you'd like to take your seats, anywhere your wish. Good evening.
It's traditional, isn't it? Girl, girl, girl, boy, girl...
Would you like me to take your coat?
I can't see any of you!
You're a shirt with a really big flower head!
Finally, television presenter and gardening expert Diarmuid Gavin makes his entrance.
I like somebody who knows about the food,
if you have any questions, who doesn't say, "I'll have to ask the chef."
I don't like things that are overly fussy or too themed,
but it's nice to have a few surprises.
Diarmuid's sitting at this seat. Here you are, sir.
I love my little hedgehog!
At Gok's table, Brooke is serving wine and is keen to get things off to a positive start.
-Would you like to try the wine?
Unfortunately, despite her assurances to Fred,
she's managed to overlook a crucial step.
It's a bit warm. Do you have ice?
Is it a bit warm? Do you want me to chill it a bit longer? The bottle's quite cold. It's the top.
-Shall I chill it for longer?
You can't drink warm white wine. It is true.
-I'm from a council estate. We used to drink anything warm. That's fine.
-The warmer, the better!
-I did tell you before service to make sure you had enough ice and the wines were chilled.
With Michel having demanded perfection from tonight, it's a disappointing start.
Basically, Brooke didn't have her wines ready. She didn't get them chilled down properly.
And now they're asking her for ice in the wine.
What about Tom? Didn't he make sure? They are the only group who was going for a cigarette.
At Diarmuid's table, Ashley is acting as sommelier.
Handing out cocktails before food waitress Niki serves the antipasti.
We have Parma ham on the end, cured beef in the middle, a salami on the other end
-with marinated olives and sun-dried tomatoes for your antipasti.
-Thank you very much.
One of Diarmuid's guests doesn't eat meat, so Michel has prepared another main.
Would you be happy with tuna? Exactly the same, but with tuna?
-Tuna is the only fish I wouldn't eat.
-I'll speak to the chef and see what else we can get for you.
That would be great. Thank you very much.
-Tuna is the only fish she doesn't eat.
-Oh, f...for crying out loud!
-I'll do salmon. Does she eat salmon?
-She said tuna was the only one she didn't.
-I'll go and ask her about salmon.
-Tell her we've got some salmon.
-OK, thank you.
Michel! She wants to know where the salmon comes from.
-Scottish, wild, from the Tweed.
-Scottish, wild, from the Tweed.
Scottish, wild, from the River Tweed.
-Sorry, madam, it's Scottish, it's wild and it's from the River Tweed.
-That sounds fabulous. Thank you.
Having been warned to expect and cater for the unexpected,
Niki has overcome her first hurdle, but the guests aren't done yet.
Yes, I do know what "biodynamic" is. It's a really holistic way of raising the ducks that lay the eggs.
If they're ill, they use homeopathic remedies.
Well, the egg is biodynamic as vicariously through the duck.
But yeah, it's a lovely way. I love it.
I have not interviewed the animals, but I am assured that this is exactly how they are raised.
Michel Roux himself has explained this to me, so I trust him.
Thank you very much. That's delicious.
Have I interviewed the duck? Is she being serious, you know what I mean?
Yeah, I've interviewed the duck(!) Other than that, it's all right.
Back at Sophie Ellis-Bextor's table, the guests have familiarised themselves
with the five-course set menu.
Oh, wow, this sounds amazing!
And the first course, salmon tartare, is on its way.
-Are you all right with that?
-Yeah, it's OK.
That looks stunning. The black and the gold plate - I love it. I'd love to sit down to eat that.
The trainees have been taught that drinks should always be served first,
but wine waiter James has yet to offer the recommended beverage for this course.
Sophie, I'm very sorry to interrupt.
We'd like to offer you a drink.
With the first dish, we've got a recommendation,
but if you'd like something else, we've got a long list of varied wines and beers today.
-We'd probably be happy with the recommendation.
-To start with, we've got a cherry beer.
It's very light and fruity, but will complement the fish really well.
-Would you like to go for that to start?
It's called the Vintage Festival. It's the first time I've done it...
Oh, that looks so pretty!
With the starters served, the guests have yet to taste a drop of the ambitious five-course drinks menu.
-Next time, make sure you serve the drink before the main course comes.
20 minutes after they arrived, they finally get a drink.
At the Italian table, Ashley is playing the team's trump card.
-Is that enough?
-Yeah, thank you very much. Lovely. It's quite a truffle.
Over the weeks, he's gained a reputation for having a response to any of his guests' enquiries,
whether he knows the answer or not.
We got it from the London Food Fair, but I believe it grew up north. Near Manchester, I was told.
I'm not 100% sure, but somewhere near Manchester.
-Ashley retreats to the safety of the kitchen.
-Where is this from?
-I said Manchester. And they believed me!
Does it even grow in England?
-They come from Italy.
-I didn't know.
-You're blagging again!
-I didn't mean to. She just presumed that.
I'll go and tell her it's from northern Italy.
I'll say the chef's from Manchester and it's from northern Italy.
Excuse me. I've checked about the truffle.
The guy who goes over to Italy is from Manchester and it's from Alba in northern Italy.
-He's from where?
-He's from Manchester, the guy who gets these.
He flies over to Alba every couple of months and just gets a load of truffles and he brings them back.
It may not be strictly accurate, but it seems to have done the trick.
The Manchester truffle, the Moss Side truffle(!)
The Chinese table, Gok table, first one.
Despite the initial problem with the wine, so far Brooke is relishing the responsibility.
This is extremely different to every other service we've done. This is my favourite. Without a doubt.
Fingers crossed that it goes really well.
But serving Gok comes with its own very specific problem.
I'm looking for service as good as what my dad taught me when I was growing up.
We've always lived in restaurants and so it's probably bigger than the meal, I have to say.
-You might want to leave those on, Tom. It's still steaming. Thank you, darling.
I wouldn't use that on the steamed, just on the fried.
-Don't put the dipping sauce on the steamed, only on the fried.
The steamed sim dum...dim sum, sorry, is the green one with the pork.
Right, guys, come on in.
-You need a few pointers on Chinese food...
-..because chopsticks are always that way round.
With dim sum, because it's steamed and it cooks all the way through as you're serving, leave the lids on,
which is why everything has stuck to the bottom. And when you serve cold food, tell them it's cold,
otherwise people like Carol think it's supposed to be warm and start freaking out.
-You've got to know the cuisine. Is that all right?
-Thank you so much.
After getting warm wine, sticky dim sum and upside-down chopsticks,
Gok's table has not had the best of starts.
The guys need to get to know the food they're serving.
It's one thing serving French or Italian or nouvelle cuisine
and it's another thing serving the food I requested which is Chinese.
It comes with a very different type of service and it's not been 100%.
At the Japanese table, the sushi is on its way out,
but despite Fred's warning, once again, the glasses are empty.
Just to let you know, we've got an exclusive sake from the "Arsi" label...
"Asi"..."Asi" label. LAUGHTER
But the drinks aren't the only thing that's missing.
-Oh, yeah, soy sauce.
-Yeah, soy sauce.
Quick, quick, quick - soy sauce!
They need to think before they deliver. They need to stand back and go, "What is my next task?"
If they're getting soy sauce when the guests have already got the sushi, that's too late.
They forgot the soy sauce, the wasabi. I said, "Get the wasabi quick..."
-They had the soy sauce on the table.
-No, they didn't put it ON the table.
The pressure of being in complete control of the evening seems to be playing on the trainees' minds
and the identity of the guests isn't helping.
I just find myself staring at Gok. I'm just like...
I'm trying not to stare at him, but I can't help it.
Simple mistakes are being made. With Michel's students under scrutiny from all angles
and without the cover a busy restaurant would provide, tonight, there is no hiding place.
Tidy this. This is very messy. It needs to be tidy, the glasses, the bottles. There's mess everywhere.
It's very disappointing. They don't get the automatism. The finesse is not there.
The attention to detail is not there.
-That's all right.
-I need a cloth.
I'm very sorry.
That's not good enough at this level.
-Could I just have your...
It's somehow spoiling the evening a bit because...
You know, all these high hopes, this buzz of energy, of positive energy
with getting the tables right and settings right,
but they've forgotten some of the basics and that annoys me immensely.
It's time for the main courses.
Here we have barbecued prawns.
All that's lacking this time is something to eat off.
-They're waiting on plates.
-Where are the plates?
-In the kitchen.
-So Nikkita's gone to get plates?
-She's gone to check.
-You have no plates?
-Do you not think you should have worried about that earlier?
-Yeah, but I forgot.
-Are they going to eat with their fingers?
Oh, la la! Oh, la la!
Yeah? Plates down first.
-Two, four, five. How many have you got?
There we have the sea bass.
Gok has already picked the trainees up on their failure
to research the culture and rituals surrounding Chinese food.
-I can fillet the sea bass.
-Are you going to do it for us?
-We can do.
But now Tom has a chance to redeem himself.
-Do you want to do one and I'll do one?
-Sounds like a plan.
-Let's have a sea bass-off. Let's do it.
-I can't believe I'm doing a sea bass-off with Gok Wan.
-The heat is on. Go for it, Tom!
-Get my tie out of the way.
-Straight down the middle, remove the fillet.
So far, so good.
Very good filleting, I have to say.
-I'm quite impressed.
-They want it on there. Thank you.
-OK, here we go.
-Tom holds his own, but Gok has a lifetime of experience to draw on.
Give him plates, give him plates.
That's very good.
I've served my dad many times.
I hope your dad is going to watch this.
-There we go - filleted.
-There we go.
Put it in the centre if you like.
In the Japanese room, the plates have finally arrived seven minutes after the hot course,
but in the confusion, Nikkita and James are losing track of their five-course menu.
This is seared fillet of beef...
James? The sauce?
The sauce? It's, um...
The particular name, just bear with me one moment. Sorry.
It is a...
It's a sweet mirin sauce, so it's a sweet fermented bean puree it's served with.
We can get some soy sauce as well.
Back on the Italian table, there is a request.
-Take them out of the way?
-That'd be great.
-That's no problem. Excuse me.
-They are beautiful.
-Yeah, they are.
Ash, can you give me a hand?
I'll get them. It's OK, I'll get them.
There's muscles for you! There we are.
With the lamb on its way and wine glasses full,
Ashley can't hide his enthusiasm for the evening.
-Has your mind changed about service? Is it something you're attracted to now?
I've been in the kitchens a lot, going in and out and getting food.
They're too hot and I don't get to meet people.
-I'm definitely more interested in the service side.
-And nobody shouts at you out here.
I've never looked at waiters as somebody you should respect,
but when I've seen all the hard work that goes into it, I've learnt to respect this position a lot more.
-I'm really enjoying myself at the minute, so it's great.
As Sophie Ellis-Bextor's desserts leave the kitchen, James has learned from his earlier mistakes
and remembers to serve the pink champagne first.
And finally, his team is on the home straight.
For Tom, Brooke and Danielle, the finishing line seems a long way off.
-Is that ours?
-It's for the Chinese table.
The desserts are ready, but the previous course still hasn't been cleared.
Who called for them? We've only just cleared their mains.
Well, it's been asked for.
If you don't want it, leave it here, but it has been asked for.
Tidy up quick.
-Can you take them back out?
-Can you take them back out? Michel said it's all right.
A complete disaster at Tom's table. The dessert arrived, not cleared, not crumbed.
Danielle didn't know what to do. She was panicking.
The customers have noticed. This is just like Waterloo.
It's the kind of thing that on a busy night when you're...
It just... That can't happen.
-Sorry, Chef, do you know who asked you for the Chinese desserts or was it just a call?
Danielle's saying she doesn't know.
-You're team leader, aren't you?
From the very beginning, you should have been the person coming here,
saying, "Chef, I want this, Chef, I want that."
I've had Brooke in here three times, you, God knows how many times
-and Danielle, I don't know how many times.
-It should have been one person. One only.
-It was only supposed to be Danielle.
-Yeah, well... So where are you?
-Let's forget this. Turn the page. Customer first.
-Have you cleared?
-Yes, we've cleared.
-Brooke should be on that now. I'm just waiting for the chopsticks.
-I will do.
How long on those chopsticks?
They're having chopsticks for their dessert as well? We've got to give them the option.
You know for dessert, do they use chopsticks, yeah?
-I wouldn't have thought so.
-Tom was like, "Of course they do. We've got to give them the option."
-Tom has been designated "maitre d'".
-So I ask him what to do, yeah?
If he said "put chopsticks", put chopsticks.
The desserts go out, complete with chopsticks,
and Gok doesn't bat an eyelid.
It's not been an easy night for Tom and his team, but at least it's ended on a positive note.
Don't feel obliged, but here you are.
I think he really enjoyed it. I think they all enjoyed it. It was good. I enjoyed it.
I really enjoyed it. I fully forgot that I didn't know who he was.
With his work in the kitchen done, it's time for the chef to meet his public.
Ah, Mr Roux! How are you?
If this was a totally real, live, proper dinner party,
would you be prepared to say, "Well, I want the same waiters that served me again"?
Yes, I would invite the same service team that I had,
but I would want them to come early, so I could talk them through the menu.
-I don't think they really understood the cuisine.
-Thank you very much.
-Good to see you.
-Tell me a bit about your evening.
-I thought they were both really brilliant.
They were charming, which is the main thing,
and any slight issues, they dealt with them without making a big fuss and their charm saw them through.
They were hugely attentive throughout the evening and service was very good.
-Thank you so much for tonight.
-Did you enjoy it all?
-It's been gorgeous.
So tell me a bit about service.
It's been really charming. I think we've all been... Yeah.
-We've grown quite fond of our two guys. James and Nikkita have been lovely.
-There were a few things that weren't exactly as you'd expect.
Some of the courses came out and the drink wasn't there,
then the soy sauce came out when we had nearly finished the sushi, but their personality made up for that.
Potential-wise, what would you say about Nikkita?
Has she got the potential to achieve something in our industry?
She'll be great. In ten years, she'll be brilliant. James is great now.
Oh, wow, I'm getting lots of kisses!
-Nice to meet you.
I got loads and loads of kisses!
I was hoping for perfection. I'm a perfectionist, after all.
There were mistakes, but the customers have left tonight happy.
-As long as you've had a good evening.
Glad you enjoyed it. Thank you.
They've been very personable. They have given all that love and care to their table.
I'm just glad that you liked my flower. I put it on the table. "I hope she likes it!"
It's been a really nice night. Really special.
Tonight's service was about bespoke personal service
and to that extent, I think that my trainees have delivered.
The trainees are approaching the end of their time with Michel.
To win a scholarship would be life-changing.
'I'd like to think I'm in the running for it.
'I'd like to win and I think I've been working well consistently,'
so if I perform the best I can next week, why not?
I hope I've done the best I can to get it. If I don't, I've tried my hardest.
Next time, it's personal as the trainees take over Michel's own two Michelin-starred restaurant.
-Some truffle for you, sir.
-He will decide who receives the two Academy of Food and Wine scholarships
that will launch the winners into careers in the industry.
My first choice is for the sommelier scholarship and my choice is...
Michel Roux is on a personal mission: to take eight young people who have never considered a career as front-of-house restaurant staff, and prove to them that it is an industry that can change their lives. In just two months, he wants to take his trainees from the high street to the high end - learning skills that will enable them to take over service at his own two Michelin-starred restaurant. Ultimately Michel will choose the best two trainees and award them life-changing scholarships.
Decision time is looming and Michel brings his trainees back to London, to test their developing skills on some very special guests. Bespoke private dining is a growing phenomenon where wealthy diners pay for the restaurant experience to be tailor-made for them.
Gok Wan, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Diarmuid Gavin have been personally chosen by Michel for their love of eating out and for their very different menu requests. Split into three teams, each catering for their very own VIP, Michel wants his trainees to go head-to-head. But charged with planning every aspect of their guests' evenings, from table decorating through to choosing the menu and matching, the trainees will be under the spotlight like never before.
To prepare them for their intimidating dinner parties and the intensity of intimate service, Michel takes his trainees to one of the biggest days in the polo calendar, the Royal Windsor Cup.
When the evening of the bespoke dinner parties arrives, some of the trainees struggle to cope with the added responsibility demanded of them. On his own monitor in the kitchen, Michel sees enough to know that some of his trainees are ruling themselves out of the running.