Aristology is defined as “the art or science of dining”. But even though the word first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1835, many people still don’t know what it involves. Lorraine Worsley-Carter meets Aristologist, Gary Newborough to find out.
For 34 years Gary owned ‘The Market Restaurant’ on the corner of 104 High Street in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Before that he spent more than 20 years with British Telecom as a management trainer and Head of the BT Management College in Manchester. But it was his love of crime and mystery fiction that first introduced him to the world of the aristologist.
“Some years ago, I came across the work of Rex Stout,” says Gary. “His best-known characters were probably the detective Nero Wolfe and his assistant Archie Goodwin.
“Good food is a keystone of Wolfe’s mostly leisured existence. He is both a gourmand and a gourmet. He displays an oenophile’s knowledge of wine and brandy, but it is only implied that he drinks either.
“He knows enough about fine cuisine to lecture on American cooking to Les Quinze Maîtres (a group of the 15 finest chefs in the world) in the book, ‘Too Many Cooks’ and to dine with the Ten for Aristology (a group of epicures) in ‘Poison a la Carte’”.
Fascinated by the idea of this group of gourmets, the Ten for Aristology, he began to delve deeper into what being one might involve.
“An Aristologist is someone who studies or takes part in the art or science of cooking and eating (dining) with particular interests and skills in the preparation, combination and presentation of food, wines, spirits, flavours and tastes – coupled with tasteful and correct presentation of all the courses and components of a meal,” Gary explains.
“An Aristologist is likely to place great importance on the experience, skill, and artistic integrity of the chef, and disdain the use of cookbooks, ready-made ingredients, and other conveniences.
“I’ve been lucky in that in the last 50 years it’s been my passion, first as a hobby, an interest and more recently a career. Despite recent comments by politicians, hospitality is a highly skilled industry where people with passion work long hours for low wages to make the lives of our guests, you the general public, a little bit more special. We are privileged to be there at great moments: dates; birthdays; promotions; engagements; graduations; weddings; christenings; celebrations of all kinds and some more sombre occasions too.
“The guest is rarely aware of the effort that goes on behind the scenes to ensure we give you the best possible experience exceeding your expectations. My 10 years owning and running The Market Restaurant in Manchester’s Northern Quarter taught me that if you do your very best, and do it really well today, you get to do it again tomorrow. You’re only as good as your last service!”
Gary, like many of us in the 21st century has leaned the art of reinvention. The Market Restaurant closed in 2015, so what steers his career star these days?
“I now spend my time, coaching, teaching and advising on customer service, judging competitions like the Italian Restaurant Awards and the Sommelier Wine Awards and celebrating some great culinary adventures on social media,” says Gary.
Does he have any advice for how customers could be helping hospitality businesses during these challenging times?
“Eat out to help out in these very tough times,” he says. “Small independent cafes bistros and restaurants need your support because if you blink, they’ll be gone forever!
“We all love constructive feedback and if something hasn’t gone quite as it should, let the owner or manager know. Unhelpful reviews on social media after the event leave the venue powerless to address your specific concerns and could actually have a negative impact on someone’s livelihood.”
Gary has recently relaunched The Market Restaurant Cookbook as an eBook with profits going to Hospitality Action, a charity established in 1837 offering vital assistance to all who work, or have worked within hospitality in the UK.