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Step aside, star chefs, it's restaurateurs' turn

Chefs are given too much credit for a restaurant’s success today, author Nicholas Lander says, while the industry’s true creative forces—restaurateurs—gets the short end of the stick. His new book aims to set the record straight.

Chefs “have been the main focus of the restaurant media, to the detriment of the restaurateur’s profession” Lander writes in The Art of the Restaurateur (Phaidon, $39.95). His book puts the spotlight on the rare individuals able to do everything from dreaming up new restaurant concepts to balancing their books.

So complex is the restaurateur’s role that it’s hard to capture everything it involves in words. But Lander’s methodology helps him to pull it off. He interviewed 20 influential operators to make his case. Subjects includes U.S. restaurant giants like Drew Nieporent, Joe Bastianich and Danny Meyer, plus international icons like Julie Soler of Spain’s el Bulli and Alan Yau, founder of London-based noodle chain wagamama.

Let’s hope this book brings new visibility to the restaurateur’s profession, because it could sure use some help. “We restaurateurs are a dying breed,” Nieporent tells Lander. “We’re the dinosaurs of the industry, being wiped out by the chefs. But restaurateurs supply the vision that’s at the heart of everything we do.” Amen.

Most RH readers who read this one will likely deliver the same verdict: “Finally, a book about us!”

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