SIR Terence Conran and Joel Kissin, chairman and managing director of Conran Restaurants respectively, have launched some of the capital's most talked-about restaurants in recent years.
When Quaglino's opened on Valentine's Day 1993, it achieved the sort of media exposure normally reserved for Hollywood. The 300-seat restaurant was not just London's biggest, it also offered good food to a diverse clientele. In particular, its style of seafood presentation was rated as second to none.
Quaglino's panache inspired many of the stay-at-home public to defy the recession and come out to eat once more. In the words of one of the judges, it became "a high point in the restaurant industry's evolution, splitting it into pre- and post-Quaglino's eras, in the same way that there had been pre- and post-Langan's".
But Quaglino's must not overshadow Conran and Kissin's other recent successes. Le Pont de la Tour and the Gastrodrome complex at Butler's Wharf have brought quality eating to a previously uninspiring stretch of the river Thames.
The 10,000sq ft complex resulted in restaurants and specialist food shops offering quality riverside dining within easy reach of the City. And as the project developed, new restaurants were added - Cantina del Ponte 18 months ago and, most recently, the Butler's Wharf Chop-house.
Not to be forgotten is Bibendum, which, since its opening in 1987, has maintained its position as one of London's most fashionable eating places.
It was there in the eye-catching Michelin building in South Kensington that Kissin, who became its general manager, and Conran first combined their talents.
Since those early days the Conran and Kissin partnership has gone from strength to strength. In the words of one of the judges: "This award isa bit like the Derby. Some years there is a winner that is way ahead of the pack - and this year is one of them." n
Lindsey Bareham, freelance journalist
Christopher Corbin, proprietor,Le Caprice/the Ivy, London
Andrew Eliel, managing editor, Egon Ronay's Guides
Matthew Fort,food and drink editor, The Guardian
David Wilson, chef/proprietor, the Peat Inn,Nr Cupar, Fife