Your Culinary World is proud to award a Golden Rolling Pin to Australia's Chef Brett Graham and his staff for their valiant defense of their guests and kitchen during the sadly still occurring London Riots.
Diners were enjoying dinner at The Ledbury in the affluent west London suburb of Notting Hill when 50 to 60 rioters smashed their way into the restaurant with machetes, knives and cricket bats. They demanded that the stunned diners hand over their wallets, cellphones and wedding rings.
As soon as the staff realized what was happening, they charged the looters with rolling pins and any other lethal-looking culinary tool they could find in the kitchen.
Yelling and screaming they drove the robbers, all 50 plus, from their restaurant back into the street.
They then calmly served glasses of complimentary whisky and champagne to their shaken guests. What style! What composure! For this alone they deserve the Golden Rolling Pin Award.
But the story of their courage and professionalism doesn’t stop there. When it was realized that the front door had been smashed, making the restaurant’s entrance onto the street unsecured, the staff first sheltered their guests in the restrooms and then the wine cellar, urging them each time to lock themselves safely inside.
Their decision was a wise one. The rioters did return, breaking and smashing everything in sight.
When it was all over, the restaurant’s guests emerged safe and sound to a scene of mob destruction few will ever forget. Yet none of those present could doubt that, first and foremost, the staff had thought only of them during the mayhem that wrecked the once elegant restaurant.
Amazed and thankful, the grateful guests offered to pay for the dinners never served as some small way of saying “thank you” for the staff’s brave efforts that evening. In a gracious response worthy of the great Alexis Soyer himself, the staff declined payment.
Professionalism, as you known, requires that one never accept payment for a dinner unserved. That would not be honest. What a difference their attitude was to that of the looters outside. They protected while those outside destroyed.
Bravo, bravo and so well, well done! How truly all those at The Ledbury deserve the Golden Rolling Pin Award for a night of remarkable bravery and professionalism!
One can only hope that one day compassion and hospitality will reign and that all of humanity will feast together at a "table of brotherhood" in mutual peace and understanding.
Post Note, August 26, 2011: Due to the threat of potential harm from the massive approaching Hurricane Irene to the hundreds of thousands expected to attend, the dedication of the Martin Luther King Memorial has been cancelled.
"It is with a heavy heart and enormous disappointment that we announce that, in the interest of public safety, we are forced to change our plans," Mr. Harry Johnson told a news conference today.
Instead, the historic event will be moved to September or October when the skies have cleared and any damage(hopefully minor) to roads and cell towers has been repaired. After years of effort to make the Memorial a reality, the decision to delay the dedication must have been a hard one, but the right one. Safety always comes first – something every great hotel knows and practices daily.
Post Note, August 22, 2011: As the U.S. begins a week of celebration honoring the memory of Martin Luther King, many visitors to the new King Memorial are delighted that the installation promotes freedom as a universal human right, not merely a singular American occurrence. Congratulations to the Martin Luther King Memorial designers for their personal courage and global perception.
Post Note, August 12, 2011: Many of Washington DC's leading hotels are working hard to make rooms (and tickets) available for the upcoming August 28th dedication of the Martin Luther King Memorial. If you were not present when King made his famous "I have a dream" speech, here is another choice to be present when history is made.
Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2011