Food by VICE

London's High-End Restaurants Are Afraid of Ugly People

Beauty may very well be in the eye of the beholder, but the next time you get the urge to grab a bite to eat at an in-vogue High Street eatery, you’d be wise to round up all the nyphets, beefcakes, and glamour-pusses you can humanly muster.

by Alex Swerdloff
Jan 7 2016, 11:00pm

Beauty may very well be in the eye of the beholder, but the next time you get the urge to grab a bite to eat at an in-vogue High Street eatery, you'd be wise to round up all the nymphets, beefcakes, and glamour-pusses you can humanly muster. Better yet, make a day out of the meal and put out an open casting call.

At least that might be the best course of action, should you believe the claims that are being made in Tricks of the Restaurant Trade, a four-part documentary series that began airing in the UK just this Tuesday. The documentary series aims to expose industry practices and show restaurant-goers how to get "the best quality food and service at restaurants."

Short answer: Be pretty. Very, very pretty.

According to RT, the series producers attempted to prove that high-end restaurants in London often discriminate against unattractive patrons by sending "four attractive models into three of the most expensive restaurants in London and they were immediately led to the 'golden tables,' near the windows."

Afterwards, Adam Pearson, one of the show's main presenters—whose face is covered in non-cancerous tumors due to neurofibromatosis—visited the same restaurant and asked for a table. Pearson and his companion were either refused service or seated at a table tucked way in the back of the restaurant. While none of the restaurants visited during the undercover investigation have been identified, Pearson had this to say about the experience: "It's disappointing. The next time you get sat at the back of the restaurant, now you know why."

One of the other show's hosts, chef Simon Rimmer, gave an insider's perspective on the situation and explained that every restaurant "has a golden table" that is given to attractive customers. He went on to tell the Evening Standard, "A restaurant's clientele give off a certain message about the place. Good-looking customers attract more people and make you more cash, so you sit them where they can be seen."

The owner of London's Season Kitchen, Neil Gill, explained to the Sun, "Everybody likes to associate themselves with cool people and good-looking people. You want to feel like you are eating in a restaurant where there are other cool people."

While this revelation might seem like a bit of a no-brainer to some, only a few insiders have chosen to actually shed light on the industry-wide practice of looks discrimination. Back in 2013, Parisian restaurant Georges made headlines after one of their former waitresses came forward and detailed to Le Canard Enchainé how her boss had enforced a policy of actively guiding the "handsome and beautiful" towards visible seats while shunning unattractive patrons.

So now we know for sure that in trying to make their establishments look as much like J. Crew catalogs as possible, restaurants have entered into the "hot or not" business. No need to swipe left on Tinder. Just go out for dinner.

Adam Pearson
Simon Rimmer
restaurant industry
British restaurants
Tricks of the Restaurant Trade