The economic slump hit the restaurant business hard: diners cut back, and investors practically stopped putting money into startups. In London, that led to a boom in “pop-up” dining — places where top-notch chefs temporarily took over alternative spaces, from friends’ apartments to greasy spoons to construction sites. This is fine dining’s equivalent to the speakeasy — a hot ticket available only to foodies in the know. We travel to Victoria Park in hip East London, where up-and-coming Scottish chef Isaac McHale has been running Elliot’s in the Park every Friday night in a casual cafe. McHale boosted his reputation by spending a night cooking at Nuno Mendes. He explains the inspiration for his “culinary gallery” in a London loft space. Finally, Niamh Shields, hailed as one of Britain’s top food bloggers, draws parallels between the clandestine dining movement and the revolutions that have rocked the music industry over the past decade.
Need to Know is a production of Creative News Group (CNG) in association with WNET. Marc Rosenwasser is Executive Producer. Need to Know is made possible by Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Mutual of America, Citi Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Foundation, Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS.