Paul works extremely hard. In this industry, you only get out what you put in. If you work at a million miles an hour, if you work super-hard and you’re super-dedicated to making sure your clients feel welcome in your restaurant and you never take anything for granted, you’ll succeed. And Paul has all that: he has the natural talent and he also has attention to detail, which you need.
Any top job is pressurised — whether you’re a Formula 1 driver or playing in the premiership or a top chef, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is how you deal with that pressure on a daily basis. That’s what makes the man, that’s how you show people that you’re mature, that you’re growing up, that you can deal with situations.
For the first two or three years, you need to get your head down. You have to make sure that you’re working super-hard, that you build a fantastically loyal clientele within your restaurant. Don’t think about being a international restaurateur. Think about being a local neighbourhood restaurant. You do that and all the neighbourhood people follow your restaurant. That’s how we started Pollen Street, that’s how we started Maze [where Atherton worked with Gordon Ramsay]. Paul’s doing exactly the same with the Social Eating House, just building a really cool, local restaurant in Soho. In three years’ time we’ll sit down, take stock and say hey, do we want to put a Social Eating House in New York? Do we want to have one in Singapore? But for now, it’s heads down, making sure it’s a massive success.
My favourite dish by Paul is his duck ‘ham, egg and chips’. I have it every time I go.
Jason Atherton owns the Michelin-starred Pollen Street Social, Little Social and the Social Eating House, where Paul Hood is his head chef. Jason is taking part in London Restaurant Festival in partnership with American Express. For more information visit: londonrestaurantfestival.com