This week we meet the man who transformed a “red sauce” Italian restaurant into LA’s buzziest new bar and beat a path to a hot restaurant opening in Milan. Elsewhere we rustle up a recipe for salmon tartare, hear about artist Yuri Suzuki’s weekend itinerary, browse the shelves of the first Southeast Asian outpost for Japanese book firm Tsutaya and explore the perks of work. First up, it’s Monocle’s editorial director, Tyler Brûlé.
My tour of Europe continued this week. First stop Berlin, then Hamburg and back to Zürich – and by the time you’re finishing your croissant and coffee I should be in Marseille. Here are a few snippets, scenes and things overheard along the way.
It was a very early start at Stockholm Arlanda Airport on Monday morning. The security queues were somewhat under control, save for some butch ladies in green braids, tattoos and uniforms who were taking considerable pleasure in forcing female passengers to edit their make-up kits and enter into debates about whether pressed powder was a liquid rather than a solid. Really?! As they went about berating (correction: humiliating) a woman who was well north of 80 I was tempted to intervene and ask whether their tone needed adjusting and they might show a bit of respect for someone who was clearly not a regular traveller and was a fine example of someone who is being left behind by a society that chooses not to be inclusive of anyone over 70. It’s curious and upsetting, isn’t it?
Companies and governments continue to push digitisation across the spectrum but data shows that many elderly people don’t have smartphones, let alone the motor skills to use them. Nevertheless CEOs, board members and ministers talk up digital societies, equality and not leaving anyone behind. Bullshit. We have arrived at a place where all sense of proportion has been lost when it comes to who needs the most attention in our society and where efforts need to be focused. Smart businesses should take a good look around and see who their audience is, what the market looks like and adjust their message to reality rather than distorting the picture.
It’s been a long time coming but Berlin’s Château Royal has finally thrown open its doors – though not all of them. While the hotel is in a soft-opening phase (not all rooms or facilities are fully open) first impressions are promising with solid materials and finishes, excellent lighting, good water pressure and perky staff. It likely needs a few more months to get into its groove but the German capital might finally get the bijou address that it’s been missing.
I’m at a dinner (we’re still in Berlin) for a Nordic financial services company and I’m seated between a retired US army general and a Berlin-based political adviser. We’ve all been invited by this company to speak across a range of topics. Over starters the general gives me his take on Ukraine. He says that if sanctions hold and the arms supply continues, the country will have regained all lost territory and be poised to take back Crimea by year’s end. He also says that Europe’s biggest concern is not Ukraine but the destabilising force of unchecked immigration. The political adviser chips in, agreeing that the swing to the right in Italy and Sweden reveals that people are fed up with policies that have allowed for the creation of parallel societies and welfare systems that make few demands to push integration. “I don’t want to be a downer,” said the policy wonk, “but if European countries don’t toughen up, they will see the educated and wealthiest fleeing to Canada because crime and social problems will spiral out of control in places like France and Germany.”
A few weeks ago we decided to host our Herbstmarkt (autumn market) on 1 October, convinced that the hot summer would mean that the high temperatures would linger and it would be perfect weather for lederhosen and dirndls on Dufourstrasse in Zürich. Ha! Our market has turned into a rather damp affair outdoors but it’s all cosy and busy inside with wurst being served, beers being poured and lots of purchasing going on. Our neighbourhood regulars are on hand but what I like best is meeting all the new people who have travelled from afar to mingle with the team, drop story tips and suggestions and spread good cheer. These gatherings also mean that we don’t have to rely on classic market research. We know exactly who our audience is and what it’s thinking. Thank you.
Finally, here are a few forthcoming Monocle events for your diary. On 14 and 15 October we’re doing our first Monocle pop-up restaurant with chef Tsubasa Hanawa at Monocle in Zürich and, all going well, at Midori House in London shortly after. It will be an Italian affair with a Japanese spin, with good cocktails and wine, various pastas and a fun crowd. Spaces are limited so please book with Raffi at firstname.lastname@example.org. On 8 and 9 November we’re in Dallas for the second edition of The Chiefs conference. Focused on leadership, opportunities and entrepreneurship, it will bring together more than 20 speakers and Monocle editors for a day of discussion, debate and good bites, all high above Dallas. For more information and to buy tickets, contact email@example.com or visit here. We’ll round out the year with our Christmas markets in Zürich and London and the usual mix of stallholders, Japanese gift-wrapping, singing, gluhwein and much more. In Zürich it will take place on 3 and 4 December and run all day at Dufourstrasse 90 and in London on 10 and 11 December at Midori House – doors open at 10.00. Santa’s all set and will be making his way southward from his HQ in Finland. Looking forward to seeing you in Dallas, Zürich and London.
“It’s one of those Los Angeles ironies that there was no aperitivo bar in a place with such superior weather,” says Robert Fleming, who ran spots around the city for years before opening the Capri Club this summer, a bar where the crowd spills onto the street to enjoy the balmier climate even at sunset.
The Capri was a “red sauce” Italian restaurant for decades before Fleming added some flair (the previous owners once had a TV tongue-lashing from Gordon Ramsay). Now it specialises in pre-dinner cocktails and small bites to whet the appetite, such as frittatine di pasta, served to guests seated in convivial leather booths. There’s also a frozen-negroni machine that starts whirring mid afternoon. We’ll meet you at the bar.
On the top floor of the newly minted Medelan building near Milan’s Duomo, Horto is making a bid to be the next big thing in the city. With a menu overseen by star chef Norbert Niederkofler, Horto serves immaculately arranged plates that feature ingredients sourced from within an hour of Milan. Its bread is from Isola’s excellent Tondo bakery, for example, while its freshwater fish is plucked from Lake Iseo.
Meanwhile, staff uniforms and some of the decor are recycled – the floors are made from old vinegar barrels – and a greenery-filled rooftop terrace offers views of the cathedral.
Tokyo-born artist, designer and musician Yuri Suzuki is known for exploring sound in his art and design. His recent London installation, “Sonic Bloom”, was a comment on the difficulty of communication, told through a cluster of colourful horns. Here, Suzuki sounds off on his favourite cookbook, vinyl and seaside café.
Where will we find you this weekend?
I live in the seaside town of Margate, so the weekends are slow and relaxing. Usually, I’ll hang out at local galleries, go to the beach with my family and see friends for coffee. I also have a newborn baby, who keeps me and my partner busy.
What’s your ideal way to begin a Sunday – a gentle start or a jolt?
When I lived in London, Sundays were about recovering from the night before. With a newborn, I wake up at 05.00 then have a slow breakfast. Things are a lot more peaceful.
What’s for breakfast?
I recently bought an amazing rice cooker in Japan, so we’ve been having lots of traditional breakfasts. I also quite like Dalby Café, the greasy spoon in Margate.
Lunch in or out?
I like going to the farmers’ market, buying fresh ingredients and cooking a nice lunch at home.
Walk the dog or downward dog?
Neither. But in the summer I love heading down to the beach and going for a swim in the sea.
A Sunday soundtrack?
I’ve got a great vinyl and record player set-up at home, so I’m usually playing something from my collection. Often it’s “O Superman” by Laurie Anderson.
News or not?
Not really. I find the news a little negative so I tend to avoid it.
What’s on the menu for dinner?
My favourite recipes are from Rachel Roddy’s An A-Z of Pasta. They’re amazing – so simple and delicious.
Sunday evening routine?
It’s very regimented now: dinner, bath, a bit of television and an early night.
Here, our Japanese chef shares an Asian take on tartare, complete with nori, a few glugs of sesame oil and plenty of flavour. It’s super as a starter, snack or light lunch. Enjoy.
200g sushi-grade salmon fillet, deboned and de-skinned by the fishmonger
2 tbsps chives, finely chopped
2 tbsps shallots, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsps pickled jalapeños, finely chopped
2 tsps toasted sesame oil
½ tsp good-quality sea salt
10 small sheets of crispy nori (seaweed)
1 spring onion, white part only
½ tsp sesame seeds, toasted
Cut the white part of the spring onion into 3cm lengths, sliced very thinly, then keep in ice-cold water until needed to make it crunchy.
Trim off the brown meat from the salmon and discard it along with any skin and pin bones. Cut fillet into 7mm cubes.
Put all the ingredients except the nori, spring onion and sesame seeds in a bowl and combine.
Remove the spring onion from the water and dry on kitchen paper.
Divide the salmon mixture between two plates, making clean, neat mounds. Sprinkle the spring onion and sesame seeds on top.
Wrap the salmon tartare in the nori sheets. Do this as you eat (as you might with tacos) to keep the nori from getting soggy.
After nearly a century of hosting the world’s finest golfers in its Perthshire country pile, Gleneagles has opened a townhouse hotel in Edinburgh (writes Josh Fehnert). The 33-key guest house and members’ club on St Andrew’s Square is in the former HQ of the Bank of Scotland. Overseen by Ennismore Design Studio, the fit-out took a full five years and features the right mix of beautiful old cornicing, vaults and original fireplaces, and the work of contemporary Scottish artists.
Foodwise, The Spence restaurant sits in the former banking hall and is presided over by a domed glass ceiling and elaborate gantry lighting that illuminates the 120 seats. The rooftop Lamplighters bar feels snugger and more secretive, and offers a great view over the city’s skyline. In short: you might say that Gleneagles went to town when it came to the city.
Tsutaya, the peerless Japanese bookshop chain, started a new chapter with a branch in Malaysia (writes Naomi Xu Elegant). It has more than 1,400 outlets across Japan, China and Taiwan but this is its first in Southeast Asia. Nestled in a new mall in Bukit Jalil, southern Kuala Lumpur, the shop covers 2,880 sq m and includes a café and an indoor playground for children. But most of the area is taken up by glossy floor-to-ceiling wooden shelves, every one softly backlit to highlight the spines on each row. Huge potted ferns and orchids punctuate the moodily lit interior and judiciously dotted couches and desks invite readers to leaf and linger.
The shop also stocks stationery, gifts and homeware, has a newsstand and hosts art exhibitions. To cater to multilingual Malaysians, the shelves carry a whopping 240,000 books in English, Bahasa Malay, Japanese and both traditional and simplified Chinese. The café serves drinks and well-made Japanese snacks and confectionery, including dorayaki. Treats for the mind and body.
Where’s next for business and the way we work? ‘The Entrepreneurs’ is our annual magazine dedicated to answering these questions and more. Expect ideas, inspiration and savvy suggestions to improve your professional and personal life. Here we share a perk of work and how one company rewards its staff.
Once a stray foxhound from South Carolina, two-year-old Rory now has a pampered Brooklyn life, hundreds of social media followers and a coveted TV appearance on Puppy Bowl XVII, hosted by Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg, and broadcast to about 2.6 million viewers on Discovery+.
Rory has international marketing technology company mParticle to thank for her rags-to-riches story. “A big reason we adopted her was because of ‘pawternity’ leave,” says her owner Nina Kratter Levine, mParticle’s talent acquisition partner. The company offers two weeks off when employees decide to take home a rescue pet.
The generous policy is just one among many other benefits, which also include unlimited time off. As a company that collects large amounts of data for its platform, mParticle needs to recruit highly specialised developers and web engineers are so in demand that technology businesses keep upping the outrageousness of their perks to attract employees. The firm must be doing something right, as it’s doubling its headcount year on year.
Chief marketing officer Jason Seeba says that they feel it’s important to give employees the time to care for their new pups. “Many of the executives are involved in animal rescue and pets are a big part of their life,” says Seeba. “The two weeks can be useful if you need to get adjusted to your new dog or if you have to travel to adopt. Our employee handbook makes the point though: it’s specifically around rescue animals – not from a breeder.”
Kratter Levine was happy to oblige. “A dog is like a child in the beginning,” she says. “I appreciated that I could be there for those early crucial bonding moments.” The company has always been dog-friendly: the office near Union Square has an open floorplan and there can be as many as four pets there at a time. “It’s the kind of environment where you could find your dog on someone’s lap on the other side of the office,” says Kratter Levine.
For more from the world of start-ups, success and succession, buy a copy of our business-minded magazine, ‘The Entrepreneurs’ now. Have a super Sunday.