A visit to the Grand Restaurant: An Interview with Pavel Maurer
Pavel Maurer: Even potato salad on a paper plate requires a bit of concentration
He is the founder and publisher of the only independent guide to domestic restaurants and has been the organizer of the prestigious gastronomical event, the Prague Food Fest, since 2007. He has published several publications on food, and last but not least, is a juror of the CBRE Meeting Room of the Year for the second year in a row. Pavel Maurer studied journalism at Charles University and has served as the Creative Director in an ad agency, Young & Rubicam, and as the New Business Director in Ogilvy & Mather, among other roles. He currently devotes most of his time to his gastronomical activities and is an external lecturer of Marketing Communication at FAMU.
The first question is past to you by Martina Pištěláková, the designer behind the TV programme “How to Build Your Dream”. What would you advise against or recommend to companies that have their own canteens or buffets? And in terms of the food as well as the equipment and interiors?
“If the company has an ‘open working space’, which is not a particularly nice way in my opinion, I would recommend making the canteens or buffets more intimate. Maybe with places where a person can be on their own or they can eat with other colleagues. And vice versa. At the same time, use calming colours when decorating, colours associated with nature, yellow (the sun), brown (the earth), green (plants) or blue (the sky). “
The name of your book is called “Don’t Eat Stupidly!”; have you got any tips for people who can’t find time for a longer break during work, so they don’t eat stupidly?
“I think that even potato salad on a paper plate or a garnished open-faced sandwich requires time and some concentration for at least a little while. The more we think about what we eat and concentrate on the present, it is very beneficial for our bodies. All of our cells should be focused on what we are doing, helping our bodies to digest it all better.”
When creating your guide to the best and most interesting restaurants, you get to visit many places. Is there any town quarter or a city where you enjoyed the cousine and where you would like to work in?
I definitely wouldn’t want to work in a restaurant! Few people can imagine what a difficult profession it is. I enjoy going to restaurants as a guest. The area around the statue of Franz Kafka is a sort of “Prague Soho”. Although it is close to the tourist madness around Old Town Square, you can find excellent and diverse restaurants densely clustered there. Pastacaffé, Casa De Carli, Kolkovna, Nostress, La veranda, Al Dente and many other establishments. There are bars, bakeries, sweatshops and other delicacies. It’s nice there from this perspective.
Did you encounter a working environment that you enjoyed working in during you “office” career? A small technicality or a detail?
“In the early 90s I worked in the new editorial office at Playboy. The editors were located on the top floor of the Lucerna Palace. I liked it there of course due to its view and location, but also because I was always excited to use the local never ending paternoster lift.”
Like last year, this year you sit in the CBRE Meeting Room of the Year competition jury. Can you tell us how difficult it was to decide on a winner? Do the jury roles differ, for example that you focus more on the range and quality of catering in the companies entered into the competition?
“I’ve always been interested in gastronomy, as we all have to eat and drink and breathe, no matter the environment we find ourselves in, otherwise it’s the end for us. Food and drink are a part of board rooms, offices and meeting rooms. Unfortunately, often we eat when commuting, on the street, standing up and on the run, and this is not good. As a juror I judge any space in terms of its look, but I would say that at the Meeting Room of the Year we always reached an agreement without any problems.”