Tell us about LPM Restaurant and what makes it different?
LPM is a Riviera-inspired restaurant and bar, which was opened in 2007 by our three co-founders, Arjun Waney (Zuma, Coya and The Arts Club co-founder), Raphael Duntoye (Chef Patron) and Bob Ramchand. It is located in Brooks Mew’s in the back alley of the Claridge’s Hotel, and could be considered by some as a great Mayfair hidden gem. There has always been a great attention to detail, providing the best possible food from the best possible ingredients in the simplest form of manner. Since the pandemic started, we have reopened with an additional focus on the bar side – it’s a classic approach with a Mediterranean twist. In my true and honest opinion, this is my favourite restaurant to go for any or every occasion.
After a year of stop-start lockdowns, how important is it for restaurants to offer unique experiences to diners now they are open again?
I believe the unique experience should be on properly doing what we are supposed to do. Great food with a big smile. I believe guests are looking at something more genuine to feel something real… As this pandemic is so surreal. Simple but honest hospitality will be more important than social media hospitality in my humble opinion.
How have the events of the past year influenced the way you approach your work?
I have taken the time to properly focus on what truly matters and improve what could be done better. I am lucky to work for a great brand and concept, and I have really been focusing on the true meaning of LPM, what it is, what it represents, why our guests love us so much… and ensure they were all pretty well identified to ensure we continue to build on solid bases. Owners have put great efforts in keeping us all safe, and I feel I had the duty to give it back to them in excelling in what I do.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Listen, and keep improving!
Who is your role model and how have they influenced you in your work?
This may sound as a pretty basic answer, but my mum has probably be the most important source of inspiration in my work. She is a hairdresser by profession, so really nothing to do with hospitality however she has been running her business, while taking care of my education when my parents divorced. She indirectly inspired me to work hard, to never set limits in my dreams, and to always question myself on what I could do better.
What ingredient can you not live without and why?
Salt, definitely. Salt is this subtle ingredient making a plan dish taste great. Salt is this pinch of excitement in a dish.
What item, apart from your passport, can you not travel without?
I would say my phone. I am travelling a lot for my work, as we do have restaurants in London, Dubai, Miami, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong and Riyadh (and more to come), so my phone is really my everything. From the phone to call my wife and two daughters, my computer to read email and surf the internet, my camera to caption anything that inspire me. I can do mostly everything with it.
Where is your favourite place to eat in London?
Besides LPM, definitely Barrafina. I travel mostly alone to London, and I love to go there by myself and be excited by the chefs cooking in front of me. The fresh, simple, yet very tasty tapas dishes with a nice selection of wines and a friendly staff makes it for me. I really do not need much, but it needs to be well done.
What do you like to do on a day off?
Rest and not do much as often as I can, as it really doesn’t happen much due to the numerous travel I have. Most of the time, when I am back home in Dubai, I am so happy to be with my daughters. They are three and 18 months, and are so funny.
Apart from food, what are your biggest passions?
I am really dedicated to my work, and this is a big part of what keeps me happy. I am always thinking what can I do better and how can I contribute to improve the business, but also guests and employees’ experience. Family is my second passion, and I am learning everyday how to be a better husband and father. Not an easy task…
If you could choose anyone from today or history who would be your ideal dinner party guest and why?
That is a tough one… so many people come to my mind, for so many reasons, so if I had to choose one only, it would be Stephen Starr [American restaurateur]. My dream has always been to open my own restaurant and develop concepts. Stephen has built a very successful restaurant empire by evolving and opening new concepts all the time. There is always an element of surprise and it never gets boring. I would be fascinated to learn from him and better understand his vision of hospitality, his approach to build and develop successful restaurants from a business, guests and employees point of view.