DaisyChain PR boasts some great supporters and this month, we catch up with Bristol’s top food critic, Mark Taylor.
Mark is a freelance food and music journalist who has been reviewing restaurants for the Bristol Post since the late 1990s. He also writes for a number of national and regional newspapers, magazines and guide books. He lives with his family in Cotham.
DaisyChain: What’s the best bit about your job?
Mark Taylor: To be paid to eat in restaurants, interview chefs and pop stars and write about it for publications with a huge readership in print and online is a huge privilege. I have never taken it for granted.
DC: And the worst?
MT: Apart from an increasing waistline all in the line of duty and daily copy deadlines, there really isn’t a down side. I’d be lying if I said there was.
DC: If you weren’t a food critic, what career path would you like to have taken?
MT: From about the age of 14, I only ever wanted to write, but not about food at that point. I’m a massive cricket fan so I originally fancied myself as a cricket correspondent spending long English summers watching games from the press box and then long, hot winters doing the same in Australia and the West Indies.
DC: Where’s your favourite watering hole?
MT: I love pubs, and it’s sad to see so many places closing. My local is the Highbury Vaults in Kingsdown, which is still as good as I remember it when I first drank there in the 1980s. The Colston Arms on St Michael’s Hill is also a great boozer with well-kept ales and some great characters. As far as ‘gastropubs’, The Kensington Arms in Redland is hard to beat.
DC: Where would you eat out for a special occasion?
MT: I’m lucky to eat in great restaurants all the time, but Bristol favourites include Pasta Loco and its sibling Pasta Ripiena, Wilson’s, Box-E and The Spiny Lobster. They all serve fantastic food and they’re also really informal. I hate stuffy restaurants where you can’t pour your own wine and have a laugh. If I was going to dress up a bit, it would have to be Wilks.
DC: Have you ever been asked to leave an establishment?
MT: No, but I’ve reviewed plenty of bad restaurants where I’ve wanted to leave sooner than I could.
DC: What’s your favourite local landmark?
MT: Christmas Steps.
DC: What’s your best quality?
MT: Punctuality and, I hope, good manners.
DC: And your most unappealing habit?
MT: Apart from when I’m interviewing people, I can be a bad listener.
DC: What trait do you most dislike in other people?
MT: Bad manners, especially people who insist on talking loudly on mobile phones on trains and buses. It drives me mad.
DC: Have you got a secret skill?
MT: I can bowl a mean yorker.
DC: What was the last live show/concert you saw?
MT: My daughter performing an Alice in Wonderland monologue at school. A proud dad moment.
DC: What’s your TV viewing guilty pleasure?
MT: Family Guy.
DC: Who or what makes you laugh?
MT: Peter Kay, Tommy Cooper and Les Dawson.
DC: How would you like to be remembered?
MT: “He may not have opened the batting for England, but he was good father and he could string a half decent sentence together.”
DC: Happiness is…
MT: Steak, chips, béarnaise sauce and a bottle of red.
DC: What’s in store for 2019?
MT: I turn 50 this summer so I’m sure there will be a few long celebratory lunches approaching. I’ve also promised my family that I’ll finally ‘declutter’ our loft, which is full of my books, CDs, papers and boxes I haven’t opened since we moved in. It represents about 40 years of collecting ‘stuff’ and I think I can finally ‘let go’. We’ll see.
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