Jay Rayner’s My Dining Hell

TV presenter and restaurant critic Jay Rayner will be describing his own personal dining hell when he appears at Barton upon Humber’s Ropery Hall in February.

 The Observer restaurant critic and chair of BBC Radio 4’s Kitchen Cabinet is launching a short tour at the Maltkiln Road venue which will be the only opportunity to see him in the Yorkshire and Humber area.

Jay, who is appearing on Friday, February 20 with his My Dining Hell, will be examining our fascination with lousy reviews, recalling some of his worst nights out and sharing the most damning reviews his own work has received.

A restaurant critic for The Observer for more than a decade and with reviews of well over 700 establishments under his belt, if there is one thing he’s learnt it is that people like reviews of bad restaurants.  They adore them, feast upon them like starving vultures that have spotted fly-blown carrion out in the bush.

“I’m sure most people will know Jay from his radio and television appearances, particularly on the One Show, Masterchef and the Kitchen Cabinet,” said Liz Bennet of The Ropewalk.  “Always an eloquent, outspoken, sometimes rude, but always pertinent critic on Masterchef, Jay is well known for pontificating passionately about food – the taste, texture, flavour of good food.”

“During a very interesting hour he will share what motivates his writing, why we love his reviews, and all the different types of “bad” restaurant.”

As well as examining our love affair with lousy reviews, reading from accounts of some of the most excruciating nights out he’s ever had, and looking at the worst reviews his own work has ever received, Jay invites the audience to give his performance a review in real time via Twitter.

Jay believes that after a long and stressful week filled with life’s little miseries, it’s  good to sit down with the Sunday papers and witness someone being laid into. For the time it takes to read 1100 words, someone is having a much worse time than you are.

“It’s also why, as Jay admits, bad reviews are easier and so much more fun, to write,” Liz added.  “He says it is all about the story and as he points out, stories with happy endings are not always the most satisfying.”

He also divulges his pet peeves, the things that immediately undermine his dining experience and attract the sharpest edge of his pen which are illustrated with brief videos starring Jay himself, acted out with an exaggerated earnestness that captures the kind of pretentiousness that he loves to undermine.

The closing section, detailing his top five worst dining experiences, is similarly deft.  For anyone with an appetite for eating out, or for insights into the reviewing profession, My Dining Hell is a must -see.


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