‘Underhand and bad form’ – Top York chef slams national newspaper for ‘shocking’ article

Chef Tommy Banks as he appears in his Instagram video, with food from Roots York behind
28 Aug 2020 @ 8.47 am
| News

In a heartfelt video message, a top York chef has condemned a national newspaper for publishing ‘scathing, unfair’ review.

Tommy Banks, who runs Roots York on Marygate, set up Made in Oldstead Food Boxes during the lockdown.

These are three course menus, from Roots York and his nationally-acclaimed restaurant The Black Swan Oldstead, which are delivered fresh to your door.

Tommy said he was contacted by a freelance journalist “wanting to do a piece in the Daily Mail, which was supposed to be about the diversification of restaurants and food boxes”.

It seemed like a good news piece – so he sent the journalist a free box. Then the Daily Mail printed the article – which turned out to be a review of fine dining food boxes which scored the Made in Oldstead Food Boxes at 1/5.

“I was pretty shocked and I’m upset really to see a one out five review of our food boxes this morning – and the article, instead of being about the diversification of restaurants, was actually a round-up of all sort of food boxes and it gave us a really scathing review.”

Started from scratch

Roots York also set up a takeaway kiosk during lockdown

In his video Tommy described how he’d set up the food boxes business from scratch in response to the coronavirus pandemic shutting down his restaurants.

“Roots, our restaurant in York, is a 100-cover restaurant. We’re down to 50 covers there.

“So starting this third business has allowed us to move an awful lot of our staff we would have struggled to employ into a new business, and keep everybody in jobs, which has been massive.

“And we use all the same suppliers as the restaurant. So the same butchers, fishmongers, all the same farmers. We’ve been able to put huge orders in with them throughout this whole period, which has really kept people going.”

Tommy said some of the things in the review were “awful” – it said the soup “tastes of decaying veg”, and yet his mum is out at 5am in the morning picking fresh vegetables for the boxes.

He didn’t want his staff to take the review to heart. And he thanked the media generally for being “awesome”: “A lot of top journalists have done great pieces, sort of highlighting a lot of the problems and struggles that we’re having now as an industry but also supporting us and getting behind us.”