Jay Rayner Writing Workshop

The Craft of Column Writing

Jay Rayner has been the Observer’s restaurant critic for 18 years. But just how do you write about the same subject time after time, and still keep your writing fresh, compelling and ahead of the competition? Join Jay for an afternoon’s masterclass, looking at the dynamics and mechanics of single subject column writing, complete with practical exercises and the chance to grill one of Britain’s leading restaurant critics to a turn.

The assumption is that a restaurant critic’s job is to tell the reader about the nuts and bolts of eating out: food, service and decor. In truth Jay uses his subject as an opportunity to discuss everything from politics to relationships, from love to sex and death, theatre, film and the arts. In short, restaurant reviewing is just another form of journalism with reporting at its heart. The key is working out the story, a lesson that can be applied to myriad single subject columns.

Course description

Location: Crazy Coqs, inside Brasserie Zédel, 20 Sherwood Street
Time: 1.15pm-4.15pm (including break)

In this detailed afternoon class Jay Rayner will share the methods and structural tricks he uses to enable him to both stay on subject, but also examine the world around us. He’ll explain how you stay on subject by constantly changing the subject. This class would be useful for anyone interested in good writing, but who is challenged by the demands of writing about the same beat over an extended period. Suitable for bloggers looking to improve their work, public relations professionals wanting to sharpen their releases and journalists preparing to move into specialist writing. Please bring paper, or a notebook and something to write with, so you can participate in practical exercises

About Jay
Jay Rayner is the award winning restaurant critic for the Observer, a regular on television and presenter of the Kitchen Cabinet for BBC Radio 4. He is the author of nine books; his latest, The Ten (Food) Commandments is out now, published by Penguin.

Praise for Jay’s first masterclass in November 2017:

“Interesting, useful, well put-together and full of practical advice.”

“Jay is engaging, clear and practical. He gave great examples and encouraged criticism throughout”

“It is a great workshop and one I’d recommend”

William Boyd at the Royal Festival Hall


William Boyd takes to the stage – alone – to talk about his life as a creator of many fictions, beginning with the publication of his first novel, A GOOD MAN IN AFRICA in 1981 and ending with an exclusive reading from his latest book of short stories, THE DREAMS OF BETHANY MELLMOTH – that appears this November.

Boyd has written fifteen novels — published around the world and translated into some three dozen languages – four collections of short stories, the screenplays for seventeen films and television mini-series and three produced plays. That’s a lot of fiction for one man and Boyd relates the stories and struggles that have ensued in this long and lively career. Stories that not only include the inspiration for some of his most famous novels – Brazzaville Beach, Any Human Heart and Sweet Caress, to name but three — but also other matters arising from the business of writing for a living, and living for writing. Such as — an eleven-year lawsuit against his French publisher (for theft), the particular problems of trying to write a James Bond novel, and – perhaps the most perplexing of the many fictions Boyd has created – the history of his collaboration with David Bowie in the evolution of the entirely made-up American artist Nat Tate (1928-1960) and the art-world hoax that followed.

It should be a creatively intriguing and revelatory encounter – and William Boyd, the real one, will definitely be there.

Margaret Atwood at the Royal Festival Hall

Well known for such novels as Cat’s Eye, Alias Grace, the MaddAddam Trilogy, and the Booker-Prize-winning The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood has been much in the news recently due to the launch of the critically-acclaimed series of her international bestseller The Handmaid’s Tale as a television series – some say, just in time for the Age of Trump.

In this unique London appearance, Margaret Atwood will read from her work; then, in conversation, she will discuss not only her career, but the past, present, and future of her best-known novel and the real world it reflects.

Tickets go on sale on May 11th from www.southbankcentre.co.uk

John le Carré at the Royal Festival Hall

An Evening with George Smiley

“The literary event of the year” – The Guardian

Join us for a unique celebration of one of the world’s greatest writers, as he shares the secrets behind the creation of his most beloved character.

From his extraordinary Cold War novels – such as The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – to his powerful descriptions of the arms trade in The Night Manager, and the War on Terror in A Most Wanted Man, the writing of John le Carré has come to define the last half century.

In this one-off event, the author discusses the full breadth of his career, and reflects on the continuing story of his most famous creation, the tubby, bespectacled spy, George Smiley.

Coinciding with the publication date of his new novel, A Legacy of Spies, the event will include readings from the book by the author. The novel sees the return of some of le Carré’s most iconic Cold War characters, including George Smiley and his trusted lieutenant, Peter Guillam, as their past comes back to claim them in the present. With a rare question and answer session, this will be an unmissable opportunity to experience one of the foremost chroniclers of our age, direct and in his own words.

In support of MSF, the leading emergency medical humanitarian aid organisation, John le Carré is donating his speaker’s fee to the charity.

Borders Book Festival

Sir Michael Parkinson, Jay Rayner, Carol Klein, Anne Reid and more at the Borders Book Festival from 15th – 18th June.

Jay Rayner ‘My Dining Hell’

Jay Rayner has been a restaurant critic for over a decade, written reviews of well over 700 establishments, and if there is one thing he’s learnt it is that people like reviews of bad restaurants. No, scratch that. They adore them, feast upon them like starving vultures who have spotted fly-blown carrion out in the bush. In My Dining Hell, Jay examines our love affair with lousy reviews, reads from accounts of some of the most excruciating nights out he’s ever had & looks at the worst reviews his own work has ever received. A hugely entertaining show in the company of the man recently voted the best food and drink journalist in Britain.

Jay Rayner is an award winning journalist, writer and broadcaster. He has been the Observer newspaper’s restaurant critic for over 12 years, is the resident food expert on The One Show, a regular judge on Masterchef and chair of BBC Radio 4’s Kitchen Cabinet. He has a lot of hair and a fine collection of flowery shirts.

Bryan Batt ‘Batt on a Hot Tin Roof’

“A spectacular one-man cabaret show… thrilling the audience with his ability to own the stage.” indaily.com.au
“There are triple-threat stars, and then there’s Bryan Batt. He sings. He dances. He acts. And he’s one of the most brilliantly funny comedians on Broadway today.” Broadway World

BATT ON A HOT TIN ROOF is a show born out of Hurricane Katrina. Broadway veteran and Mad Men star Bryan Batt grew up in New Orleans, a city that fostered his love of music and theatre. After experiencing the flooding and devastation of his hometown, he put together a one-man cabaret show paying tribute to his life there.

The music from the show features Broadway and some original material written for Bryan, peppered with the comedic skills that only Mr. Batt can provide. The cabaret experience is a divine exploration through the wacky and wildly entertaining mind of Bryan Batt.

Television audiences know Batt from his two-time Screen Actors Guild Award-winning performance as Salvatore Romano on the critically acclaimed television series, Mad Men. New York audiences have been delighted by Bryan’s brilliant stage performances in Jeffrey, Beauty and the Beast, Cats, Starlight Express, Sunset Boulevard, La Cage and The Scarlet Pimpernel. Batt is a brilliant comedic actor, which began with his long run in the hilarious Off-Broadway hit show Forbidden Broadway. This season, Bryan tackles cabaret stages throughout the U.S. culminating with one special week of performances at The Crazy Coqs.

Kerry Ellis: Boisdale, Canary Wharf

Kerry is recognised as the leading lady of West End and Broadway musicals, with a number of starring roles in London, New York, and around the world. She has achieved chart-topping success as a recording artist signed to Universal Decca with her debut album Anthems.

Samantha Barks & Kerry Ellis

Samantha Barks and Kerry Ellis come together for a stunning concert at Mayflower Theatre on Saturday 20 May.
They will perform musical theatre classics and songs from Samantha Barks new album. Expect ‘On My Own’, ‘As Long as He Needs Me’ & even some Disney.

Parkinson: The Man & his Music

A live theatrical journey through Sir Michael Parkinson’s musical DNA in words, pictures and performance featuring Sir Michael himself in conversation with his son plus very special musical guest: Joe Stilgoe.

Sir Michael’s knowledge, passion and love of music in all its forms is celebrated in a new show to be premiered at Ronnie Scott’s. In conversation with the multi-talented Joe Stilgoe using clips of classic musical moments from the Parkinson archive featuring performances and interviews with the likes of George Shearing, Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby alongside live music from Joe this will be a fascinating , entertaining and informative journey to the musical heart of Sir Michael Parkinson.