It has been 50 years since Mick Fleetwood, John McVie and Peter Green formed Fleetwood Mac. “Is it over yet?” laughs Fleetwood, who sits across from me swilling a hearty glass of wine that matches his red leather boots. It’s 10.30 in the morning.
Fleetwood is jet-lagged. He is over in London to promote the release of Love That Burns: a gargantuan chronicle of his childhood and Fleetwood Mac’s first eight years on the music scene. “We had a really busy day yesterday, but I think I went to bed too soon. It was like a gig – I should have unwound.” Despite being a little spaced out, once he gets going, he is in fine form. He is intimidatingly tall, which contrasts with his gentle nature; the iconic figure exuding the easy-going demeanour – and sartorial nous, with his Liberty print shirt and black velvet waistcoat – of someone who has experienced first-hand the highs and lows of the golden age of rock and roll.
Fleetwood, alongside John McVie, has been a constant in a band that has seen many significant line-up changes. He is often seen as the band’s driving force, pushing the band through the decades. “It’s somewhat fair to say that I’ve been the cheerleader creature that has always said, ‘We’ve got to keep going!’ – even to the point of overdoing it,” says Fleetwood openly. “But hey, this has been my life! John said to me the other day, ‘Fuck! This is what they call a career!’ It has consumed parts of our lives.” Despite the band’s longevity, Fleetwood is clearly still puzzled as to how the band has overcome obstacles that would break most bands. “We’re all over the place. Sometimes we don’t work enough; then we’re all falling in and out of love; and then there’s the sadness of people’s personal journeys. You just think: how are we still here? It’s a miracle.”
Alongside releasing some of the 20th century’s most iconic albums, Fleetwood Mac has sustained due to Fleetwood’s perseverance – while honouring the talented and influential characters that have coloured the band’s past. Love That Burns takes in the years 1967 to 1974 – the period before Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham came into the fold and 1977’s Rumours was yet to be conceived. “It’s fair to say that a lot of people are only really interested in the latter years; but I’m very happy that we were able to do this – and it stands on its own for that very reason. This book is about the foundation that led to you-know-what – which is why it was so important for this to be separate,” he says, noting that this is just volume one of the story.
Fleetwood says that it is his duty to put the spotlight on those players who helped shape the band, but no longer have a voice to tell their story. “It’s important for me to wave the flag. I’m still in the band that was started 50 years ago. I’m really proud of everything about the book and what’s in it – and speaking for people who, in my opinion, have no concept of what they did – like Peter Green and Danny Kirwan. And of course, Bob Welch isn’t here anymore,” says Fleetwood, remembering three of the band’s iconic players. “It’s appropriate that these people and the different incarnations of the band don’t get forgotten.”
It is a rarity that a band can experience obstacles, line-up changes and shifts in musical styles and still survive across decades – a fact that Fleetwood is aware and proud of. “There’s no band that did all that weird shit, frankly. It’s an odd story with that many personnel and musical changes. If you put a few of our records on at the same time, you would wonder if it was the same band. But there was a whole energy that survived those changes,” he says, noting the importance of McVie and himself being at the heart of the band’s work. “The fact that the rhythm section stayed the same has something to do with a connective that still lives and breathes today.”
Alongside Fleetwood and McVie, who have provided the band’s deep, in-the-pocket grooves, Fleetwood Mac has brought the talents of many great musicians to the fore. Alongside guitarists Danny Kirwan, Jeremy Spencer and Bob Welch, who Fleetwood says he has “huge amounts of regard for”, there is a zealous dedication to highlighting the impact founding member and former Bluesbreaker, Peter Green, had on the band. “Peter is my mentor in many, many ways – and a dear friend,” he says. “I just fell in love with Peter and his playing; he was everything to me. That’s fairly evident in the way this book has been put together. Not to diminish Bob Welch and other members that came in and out, but I think it’s appropriate, because Peter is the reason why we are here.”
Green, responsible for penning classics including ‘Albatross’, ‘Black Magic Woman’, ‘Need Your Love So Bad’ and ‘Love That Burns’, from which the book takes its name, is a pioneering blues guitarist that gave the early band a true originality. In 1970, Green’s mental state began to decline – purportedly brought on by an LSD trip. “I basically lost him, and he lost his place in the world in many ways. That was his life, and there was sadness and tragedy to it; but you’ve got to get over that and just say, ‘This happened; but look at this! Look at the music; hear the music; feel the music! And it’s profound.
“Peter’s music speaks for itself, but having the position to be doing this, to be talking about it, is important to me. I love doing it, and he’s certainly not going to do it,” says Fleetwood, breaking into a cackle.
When he’s not cajoling his Mac bandmates into working again, Fleetwood is happy in his home of Hawaii, swapping arena tours with blues jams in beach shacks. “Either way, once I get going it’s all the same, as long as I’m sweatin’,” he says with a grin. “I love to play and I get to play a lot in Hawaii – mainly at my own restaurant.” He must be relieved to be taking it easy after 50 years in studios and on the road; but he tells me that despite the band’s history resembling a “Shakespearean play”, there has never been a dull moment. “I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that everyone takes those journeys… but it has never been boring – never been boring.”
Chor Bizarre stood on Albemarle Street for nearly 20 years, attracting spice lovers with Indian dishes steeped in tradition. Now, the restaurant has closed – ending the London run of one of the most well-known purveyors of Indian cuisine.
But London is not losing a top drawer Indian restaurant. Indian Accent, operated by Old World Hospitality – the hospitality group that counts Chor Bizarre as part of its stable – is moving into the space, and promises to bring an even more stellar offering to seal London’s reputation as a bastion of contemporary Indian cuisine. “We were running this restaurant for almost 20 years,” says Mehrotra, who ran the kitchen between 2006 and 2010. “Now it’s time for a change. Indian Accent has been in Delhi for the last eight and a half years – and last year we opened in New York, which is doing very well. We felt it was time to reinvent Chor Bizarre and get Indian Accent in there.”
To say that the Indian Accent brand is doing well is an understatement. The Delhi outpost is the only restaurant in India to feature in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017; it was also awarded the San Pellegrino Best Restaurant Award in India by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017 for the third consecutive year. The New York opening, though having launched recently, has been garnering acclaim from The Big Apple’s in-the-know foodies. “Our makhan malai – a kind of milk foam which was invented in India during the Mughal era – was one of the top 10 dishes in New York in 2016.”
Mehrotra’s pedigree, and the praise heaped on both sites, suggests that Indian Accent London will be equally as impressive. But with a bevy of tongue-tantalisingly good Indian restaurants in the area, including Jamavar, Gymkhana, Chutney Mary and Benares, does he feel the pressure? “The pressure is always there, because I’ve tried all of these restaurants. They are fantastic restaurants,” concedes the chef. “Regional cooking, and especially home cooking, are huge influences on my dishes. There are very traditional dishes that people never used to put on a restaurant menu – but these feature on my menu – with my twist to it. I think these are quite different to what other Indian restaurants are doing.”
His mission is to bring a more boundary-pushing form of Indian cookery to London – in which he puts the spotlight on the myriad down-home dishes cooked throughout India’s vast regions, but prepared to exacting standards from unexpected angles. “I want to take Indian food forward. India is such a large country and people outside of it don’t know much about Indian food,” explains Mehrotra. “We have food for every palette in the world – unfortunately we are famous only for curries. We have so much more to offer to the world.” He says that compared to other global cities, London is a lot more experienced when it comes to Indian food. “The London market is quite evolved in terms of Indian flavours, if you compare it with New York, Paris or Berlin; people know about Indian dishes, but there is still more to offer.” He says that people are becoming more educated about Indian food, and it’s down to him and his contemporaries to articulate the true spirit of Indian cuisine. “People are travelling to India, and Indian chefs are now doing things outside of the country, so the public are becoming better educated. Whether it’s Gaggan in Bangkok, Atul at Benares, Floyd Cardoz in New York, or at Gymkhana or Jamavar; we all have the same goal of trying to tell people about real Indian food. We want to get more respect for Indian food.”
According to Mehrotra, this increased knowledge of Indian food allows him to serve dishes exactly as per his vision – undiluted for foreign markets. “I wanted to tell the world that you don’t have to change anything. I really want to showcase the type of flavours I work with in Delhi; I do the same in New York and I’ll do the same in London,” insists the chef. “If you see an average Indian eating at home, they don’t eat spicy food; India is a land of spices, but India is not a land of chillies. Chilli only came into our cuisine about 250 or 300 years back. My dishes are more of this home flavour profile.
“That is a misconception about Indian cuisine – the same way we Indians have the misconception that people in the West can’t handle chillies and spices. But it’s not true! I was surprised when diners in New York were comfortable with the level of spice in what we do. I didn’t have to do anything different from what we were cooking in New Delhi, and it was fine with everyone!”
Mehrotra and his team are currently not looking further than London. “At the moment, we have no further plans for expansion of Indian Accent. We started in India, and now we have a presence in New York and London – two of the great foodie cities. Perhaps, if it becomes very lucrative, then we might think of doing something,” he says, laughing, “but for now, it will be Delhi, New York and London only.”
Various shots from various shoots with an acclaimed London-based band called The Greasy Slicks. All shot on film at locations including Sunset Studio in Peckham’s Copeland Park complex, the dilapidated mansion Beckenham Place Park and the band’s garage rehearsal space.
Ostensibly, I am sat in the plush promenade of The Dorchester to interview Alain Ducasse about the 10th anniversary of his three-Michelin starred restaurant at the hotel – a milestone that assures the restaurant’s reputation as an institution on London’s dining scene. But it soon becomes apparent that Ducasse is keen to speak about something else entirely.
The influential French-born, Monégasque chef tells me that he has a new vision – not only for his restaurants, but for the wider culture of food and drink. Ducasse says that he is embracing sustainability in a grand way.
“We need to rethink the way we feed ourselves. The planet is able to feed everyone, but we have to rebalance how we consume. People who are overfed have to think about the way they consume, to allow people who are underfed to access resources. This is very important to me.”
In 2014, Ducasse took a quantum leap forward at his three-Michelin starred gastronomic temple at the Plaza Athenée, Paris, introducing a new style of cooking he calls ‘cuisine de naturalité’ – which eschews meat and dairy and puts the emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients.
This was a radical move for such a respected restaurant, particularly in Paris – a city that’s food culture is centred around animal produce. “The idea is to focus on vegetables, grains and fish. The codes for haute cuisine can be seen as produce like foie gras; but we wanted to show that we could do haute cuisine without focusing on meat.
“What we produce at the Plaza Athenée is still beautiful – the level of excellence is very high,” says the chef matter-of-factly, “But it’s key to have less protein, less fat, and also less sugar. We are creating a cuisine that is healthier for us as guests, but is also more sustainable and better for the planet,” he says. “That is my new vision.”
Removing meat and dairy from the menu was already a bold move, but Ducasse didn’t stop there; he has also installed further initiatives in the kitchen to ensure that the restaurant is as sustainable as possible. “We make sure that we use every bit of produce. Less waste is key. For instance, we use the roots of endives to make stock. We use the leaves from other vegetables to make condiments. We try and use everything – my aim is to no longer have bins in the kitchen,” says the chef, who participated in Dan Barber’s acclaimed wastED pop-up at Selfridges that put the spotlight on the importance of reducing food waste.
Jean-Philippe Blondet, head chef at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, explains further. “In restaurants, you see that all the produce is the same size – but we don’t care. If a carrot is a strange shape, it doesn’t matter. If the beetroot is big, we don’t mind. It’s natural.
“What we are looking for is the best produce – the most fresh and organic we can find in the UK. We use everything we buy and put everything we get on the plate, just in a different way.”
“Today, we believe that big portions are synonymous with quality, which is not the case,” says Ducasse. “Big portions normally mean waste, which is a shame.” As well as using every bit of produce that comes into the restaurant to minimise waste, Ducasse’s restaurants also source ingredients as locally as possible, from trusted suppliers that share the same ethos. “In Paris, we work locally and with the seasons; the vegetables are grown in Versailles, a few kilometres away, and they are delivered with an electric car. It’s an economy of proximity.
“The key is to work with produce that is harvested when it’s at the perfect maturity, at their best.” He says that finding the right supplier has long been integral to his work; but the changing food culture has allowed him to embrace the idea more fully. “Sourcing has always been at the heart of what I do. Behind each ingredient is a man or woman who is the link between the produce and us. They allow us to have knowledge of these ingredients as well.
“There is a farmer in the countryside outside of Beijing who produces organic vegetables,” says Ducasse, noting that his sourcing philosophy extends throughout his global stable of restaurants. “It’s remarkable the work he is doing there – everything I tasted was to perfection. He decided to grow everything organically, with the idea of sustainability. He has 47 tunnels, but he doesn’t heat them which leads to less pollution.”
Ducasse believes that it’s only a matter of time until a more empathetic treatment of the environment is the zeitgeist. “People everywhere have realised that it’s now a necessity to go in that direction – to be able to feed everyone as well as preserve and protect the planet. It’s important to see these men and women standing for these ideas and facing big companies that are producing massively, and it’s important for us to support this work.”
The tricky part is to have a lasting influence on the culture, in order to create a better environment for ours and future generations. Ducasse sees the world’s finest restaurants, such as Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athenée (number 13 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants) and his spot at The Dorchester as arbiters of change. “It is key for me and restaurants like ours to highlight these issues and create awareness. Haute gastronomy is a way to share this knowledge. That’s how I can access the media and really spread the message.
“Much like haute couture with fashion, haute cuisine is necessary for the evolution of the industry. Haute couture will influence prêt-à-porter, like haute cuisine will influence the rest of the food industry,” he says, stating that daring moves from restaurants towards sustainability will have an impact on the wider food culture. “It starts in Paris at the Plaza Athenée, but the influence goes on to other restaurants – to London as well, where we have started to take on elements of naturalité.”
Ducasse’s business empire includes 26 restaurants that currently hold 18 Michelin stars; a Parisian cookery school; training and consultancy and Alain Ducasse Edition, his own publishing company. Through these, Ducasse is dedicated to passing down his expertise. “The main motivation for me is this transmission of knowledge. That’s how I see the evolution. It’s key for me to share my knowledge – of course with the guests – but also throughout the industry; the chefs, this generation and a future generation. It goes through the restaurants, the cooking schools that we have for amateurs as well as professionals, and the publishing house,” he says. Ducasse has recently published a book on these issues of sustainability, Manger Est Un Acte Citoyen – literally, ‘eating is a citizen act’ – so far only available in French.
Ducasse tells me that thanks to good timing on his part, his company’s work puts him at the dawn of a new era in the way we appreciate food. “Innovation is key; but the important thing is not to be too far ahead. You have to anticipate, but you have to find the right time to create these trends. Ultimately, this issue is incredibly important now – and it will be in the coming years.”
As featured in Mayfair Times’ November 17 edition.
Justine Waddell is a recognisable face to many. Having previously starred in acclaimed period dramas including Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Great Expectations, Justine has in more recent times become a champion of Russian cinema, and is the founder and a trustee of Kino Klassika – the foundation that aims to put the spotlight on Russian-language filmmaking.
It was while working with Oscar-nominated actor Ralph Fiennes that Justine first became interested in Russian culture. “I kind of have a long and unexpected connection with Russia,” she says, settling into a seat at Little House’s packed bar. “I had done a Chekhov play called Ivanov at the Almeida with Ralph, who was a massive star – The English Patient had just come out. We then toured that play to Moscow, which was a really special experience. It was wonderful to be doing Chekhov there.”
Some years after, Justine was approached about starring in a Russian sci-fi film called Target. “The script read like a great big flamboyant novel. It’s also loosely based on Anna Karenina, which is my favourite novel. Anna is an iconic woman in literature. How could I turn it down?”
Not even the fact that she couldn’t speak Russian put Justine off the project. “I said, ‘I’d love to do it, but I don’t speak Russian…’ And they went, in that typically Russian way: ‘Don’t worry, we’ll teach you.’ I was very English about it and said, ‘Oh, alright, very nice!’”
She says that while learning another language was difficult – particularly one as complex as Russian – it helped her develop an affinity for the country. “It was hard, but it was invigorating. I genuinely fell down the rabbit hole.”
With Kino Klassika, Justine aims to showcase Russian cinema – often state-sponsored – as art. “We try to create a space where people can experience films not as entertainment, not as propaganda, but simply as pieces as art.” She says that the work of Russia’s greatest filmmakers is worthy of being appreciated in such a way. “What’s really interesting is that the Hollywood studio system became about entertainment – and early post-Revolution Russian filmmaking was very much about innovation, experiment and what the medium could do and how it could educate. I think that’s what marked Russian filmmaking from the beginning, and really makes it worthwhile to try and share.”
The latest season, which centred on the centenary of the Russian Revolution, has just wrapped up – culminating with a screening of one of the most ambitious films in Russia’s history, October, the masterpiece by Sergei Eisenstein – accompanied by a live orchestral score courtesy of the London Symphony Orchestra. “It’s the film that got Eisenstein into trouble. It’s a deeply experimental film – very satirical and biting. It’s very caustic. October is a sophisticated film and it’s really pushing what film and editing can do; but that moment of experimenting disappeared with that film,” says Justine, noting that October was the first film accused of formalism by Stalin. “I think that’s what we were marking when we screened it at the Barbican with the LSO.”
Justine tells me there are two reasons why Russian cinema hasn’t become as prominent as filmmaking from other regions. “Firstly, there’s the difficulty of language – Russian is a different alphabet, it’s not a Romantic language. Also, there’s the legacy of the Cold War. We forget that 30 years ago, the world was split into two quite distinct regions of the world. That definitely impacted on the way that cinema was allowed and constructed to travel,” she says, noting that films by some of Russia’s greatest still found their way across the globe. “What’s interesting about cinema is that you can never put it in a box. Especially now. That’s what’s so exciting about new technology and all of the things we’re going to be able to do with new technology to get at content that was impossible to reach before.”
Kino Klassika aims to continue to bring Russian-language cinema to the rest of the world with a diverse programme of screenings, exhibitions and publications. “Kino Klassika is beginning to travel,” says Justine. “We have a Dziga Vertov programme at the Centre Pompidou in December with Antonio Somaini, who is a great European film and cultural historian – we’re really excited about collaborating on that; Thames & Hudson have also published a remarkable book by Naum Kleiman, the world’s leading Eisenstein scholar, which is a book of the director’s drawings. We connected the publisher with the author to make that book happen, which took three or four years. Martin Scorsese has written the forward to that, so that will be a big deal.
“Next summer, we have a collaboration with the Russian film journal, Séance; Lenfilm (the famous Russian film production company); and Catriona Kelly, Professor of Russian at Oxford University, called Nevaland – a pun on the River Neva – which is about the history of St Petersburg on film. It will be the first time that we’re working in Russia.”
Ultimately, the goal is to keep the standard of programming high to continue to attract those otherwise unfamiliar with Russian film. “What’s important for us is to continue the level of curatorial excellence that has been achieved so far. It’s very exciting.”
As featured in Mayfair Times’ November 17 edition.