TIMES really are a-changin’, aren’t they? We’ve all noticed a shift in the financial community’s attitude to wining and dining over the past few years, with slick power breakfasts replacing boozy lunches as the City’s repast of choice.
But surely the old guard of the banking world never dreamed they’d see the day when Simpson’s Tavern, tucked away in a little alley behind Cornhill, would bow to the sterile breakfast brigade as well.
Simpson’s is something of a legend in the City – it counts among its past patrons Charles Dickens and diarist Samuel Pepys, has been catering for thirsty financier types since 1757, and did not even admit ladies into its hallowed interior until 1916.
But bow to change it verily has, and will be serving up its usual brand of good ol’ English fare – eggs, bacon, black pudding and its famous stewed cheese – from an unearthly 8am in the morning, starting next week.
“Times and things diversify, and we’re hoping to get a different crowd in the door in the mornings,” manager Clive Ward tells me, chuckling when I enquire as to the likelihood of the tavern’s regulars coming in for a fry-up and not leaving again until closing time.
“It’s early days, so we’ll see how it goes,” he hedges, “though we will be on hand to serve up the champagne and Bloody Mary cocktails from early in the morning if they are game…” The gauntlet is down.
The financial community is notoriously gossipy, so it always comes as a surprise when one of their number manages to keep an intriguing family connection well hidden. But I hear Steve Lott – a stock market veteran who cut his teeth at Wedd Durlacher and now works at broker King and Shaxson – is an exception to the rule, since his daughter is none other than singer Pixie Lott.
Blonde bombshell Pixie is nominated for three gongs at this year’s Brit Awards – in the British single of the year, British female solo artist and British breakthrough act categories – so her old man must be rightly proud.
Corporate private jets have come under close scrutiny over the course of the financial crisis, so The Capitalist was intrigued to learn yesterday of a regulatory filing by bailed-out US insurance giant AIG concerning the personal use of its jet by chief executive Robert Benmosche.
Of course, in the decadent pre-recession days, bosses would have thought nothing of taking the plane on a jolly around the world at the company’s expense.
But as part of AIG’s draconian new Luxury Expenditure Policy (ooh-er) in the new austere era of corporate frugality, poor old Benmosche will now only be allowed to make personal detours with the company jet while away on business when he covers all of his expenses – including putting up the crew on the ground and paying for food and drink while in the air.
Something tells me the Krug won’t exactly be flowing any more…
LOVE IN THE AIR
Savvy stores have been milking the Valentine’s Day corporate spendfest for months with an array of pink and fluffy goods on display, but supermarket chain Asda must take the biscuit for the most unashamed piggybacking attempt of them all.
Asda is running a competition to find an “extra special” bride and groom to receive an all-expenses-paid wedding and honeymoon courtesy of the retailer – including the cake, the reception, the catering and £2,000 of travel vouchers.
The catch? Well, our “lucky” couple will have to bow to Asda’s judgement on outfits for themselves, the best man and the bridesmaids (The Capitalist’s money is on sickly green satin shifts) – and they’ll also have to endure their marriage being blessed in their nearest supermarket, on the pre-arranged date of 12 February.
It’s not exactly your quaint local church wedding or a barefoot ceremony on a remote tropical island beach, now is it?
Food-lovers keen to continue doing their bit for the relief efforts in earthquake-stricken Haiti, listen up.
On Monday 8 February, a cluster of London’s top chefs will be converging on Le Bouchon Breton restaurant at Old Spitalfields Market for a foodie fundraising dinner in aid of the Action Against Hunger charity.
As well as a raffle and an auction where guests can bid for a variety of luscious prizes, you’ll also get the chance to savour a five-course banquet with specially-selected fine wines – courtesy of famous chefs John Burton Race, Chris Galvin of Galvin Restaurants, Herbert Berger of 1 Lombard Street, Atul Kochar of Benares and Vickram Purewal of host Le Bouchon Breton.
Sounds like quite a bargain, at the reasonable price of £175 a head. Interested parties should contact Sabrina@foodepedia.co.uk or 07961 336 198.