Monthly Archives: July 2018

The Egon Ronay Guide to food. Once the hallmark of quality

Once upon a time in this country the simple mention of the name “It’s an Egon Ronay approved restaurant”, was enough to guarantee quality. It was also used as a sarcastic comment about a bad meal. “It’s hardly Egon Ronay is it Mum!” was bound to elicit a thick ear. Saying that a place was “not somewhere Egon Ronay would approve off”, immediately damned it as certainly not being posh. If it was rumoured that he was likely to grace your establishment the chefs would be sent into over drive over their Lincat LMR9 6 Burner Gas Oven, much like the ones that can be viewed at, in a desperate attempt to impress. It was the making and the breaking of a restaurant. To gain a place in his guide was to ensure success, and an opportunity to put your prices up, to be taken out off it was to your utter shame.

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Who was this man that had such power? Egon Ronay was a Hungarian born food critic who came to the UK after the end of the Second World War. He took over a restaurant in London thanks to his Father’s contacts. He had grown up in the world of eateries as his father was an experienced and established restaurateur of some local renown. Egon built up his businesses until taking out a loan to purchase the Maquee. He turned the once tea room into a grand French restaurant which proved a huge hit and brought the world of French cuisine to the UK where the traditional food of Britain was very popular plus rationing was still in place. His establishment began to draw press attention and the visit of Fanny and Johnny Craddock, then prominent figures on the food and drink scene including a BBC television series. Ronay was constantly asked to write about food and what was good and modern. Eventually he decided to write a column in the Daily Telegraph.

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This discovery of writing led Egon to expand out in to the restaurants of Britain and start to compile a list of the places that he believed to be examples of fine dining and cuisine. The British public were sick of the low grade fair they were being served and it was time to sample something new and something with quality. It was out there, it was just difficult to find it and where. Egon Ronay’s first guide was finished in 1957. It was very well received and sold thirty thousand copies ensuring that he would be asked to continue. Blue roundels were a mark of approval and much was made of them. To make sure the guide was fair no free gifts either of accommodation or food was accepted by the guide writers. Ronay was not elitist despite his lists popularity amongst the rich. He frequented a MacDonald’s once and was very complimentary about the McChicken Sandwich.