Saturday, 12 November 2011

Egon Ronay

A book is coming out* about Egon Ronay, inventor of the food guide in Britain - there was always Michelin but that, while useful for France, was always hopeless at finding places in the UK. In a piece about the making of the book in the FT today, there is a photograph of Egon - Mr Ronay as I knew him - in a very luxurious-looking office. When I worked for him, for a few weeks in - was it in 1967, or was it 1966? - his poky little office was on the third floor of a tiny narrow old building just off Leicester Square. I had been laid off by Thomson Newspapers while they sorted out a dispute with the print unions of a new regional newspaper I had been appointed Women's Editor of. So I signed up with a temping agency for some of the most enjoyable and instructive assignments of my life. I was a tea lady in a smart advertising agency, which taught me that people never look at the tea lady, however much of a dolly bird she might be out of overalls; and I worked for Egon Ronay. I think he was courting the second Mrs Ronay at the time. He would make a token appearance in the office, and then say casually that he was going to fly to France for the day. My job was typing out the inspectors' handwritten reports. They visited eating places in strictest anonymity, never revealing their identity. Their reports were full of unintended humour, speaking of hostesses 'roasting their joints by an open fire' and suchlike. Gosh. Over forty years ago. *Egon Ronay: The Man Who Taught Britain How To Eat (ISBN 9780957046009) or ring 08430 600033 or at

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