Michelin-starred restaurant 21212 drops to four-day week in pursuit of ‘creative flair’

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Drinks: Drinks

Michelin-starred Edinburgh restaurant 21212 is to drop down to a four-day working week.

Chef and owner Paul Kitching said the move was designed to ‘fuel the creative flair’ of his team, and was ‘by no means a way of scaling back, but a way for us to improve and grow further.’

‘We are about constant innovation and reinvention of dishes and the creativity needed for this is incredibly important,’ Kitching told The Scotsman. ‘We believe by reducing our days this creativity will grow and we will be able to push our menu and dishes to another level.’

While the hours of the 20 staff at 21212 have been reduced, their salaries apparently remain the same.

Kitching moved up to the Scottish capital in 2009 from the highly fêted Juniper in Greater Manchester. He picked up a Michelin star at 21212 the following year, and has retained it ever since, receiving his ninth star this month. His dishes are brave, unique and, as Imbibe can attest from a Chablis-matching event there last year, complex and multi-faceted.

Kitching is not the only respected chef to implement a four-day week. Since 2015, Sat Bains in Nottingham has also been running a reduced schedule, operating only from Wednesday to Saturday.

‘It was set as a six-month trial, but it worked so well that Sat and his wife, Amanda, made it a permanent thing,’ head sommelier, Laurent Richet MS told Imbibe. ‘It means you have three full days off per week, giving you time to rest and allowing you to come back totally refreshed on Wednesday morning.

‘If you have a family, it gives you a chance to spend more quality time with them, which can be tricky in our industry, as well as giving you a better work-life balance.’

And while there are clear financial implications to working four days, rather than five or six, there are equally obvious advantages when it comes to staff retention and recruitment.

‘Most of the team at Sat Bains have been with us for at least two years,’ says Richet. ‘It helps us when recruiting as not many places in the UK offer three consecutive days off per week.’

About Author

Chris Losh

After five years working on My Weekly magazine (during which time he learned how to write horoscopes and make things out of mince) in 1995 Chris Losh entered the world of drinks writing and, despite all advice from his doctor – and the wishes of most South African winemakers – has stayed there ever since. He began on Wine and Spirit International, editing it for several years before moving on to edit Wine Magazine. Both publications have since gone the way of the Dodo, but he claims to have nothing to do with their demise, and his alibi appears solid, since he was freelance writing for anyone who would pay him at the time. In 2007, he helped to set up both Imbibe magazine and the Sommelier Wine Awards, and has spent much of the last three years eating, drinking, and listening to French sommeliers talk about minerality. In 2009 he was shortlisted for the Louis Roederer Feature Writer of the Year, but didn’t win. Perhaps he should have stuck to horoscopes. And mince.

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