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Sophie Anderton, Baby Spice, Suggs and Dragons Den: all in a day's work

PUBLISHED: 16:23 03 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:22 07 September 2010

The Ham&High is owned by a community media company called Archant, which in turn runs a London-wide operation. On Sunday night, some of the capital s top venues for eating and drinking will be honoured at the Archant London Food and Drink Awards. So, like

The Ham&High is owned by a community media company called Archant, which in turn runs a London-wide operation. On Sunday night, some of the capital's top venues for eating and drinking will be honoured at the Archant London Food and Drink Awards.

So, like a football coach on a scouting mission, Archant London's head honcho Enzo Testa and I went along to the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane on Monday night to see who was picking up the prizes in a similar event, the London Restaurant Awards.

The place was sparkling with champagne and buzzing with celebrity, though ITV's decision to pull out of televising the event earned them a thorough roasting from compere Jack Dee (how does he manage to be one of the funniest men on the planet without ever breaking into a smile)?

Undoubtedly the cosmos of stars signed up for the night had arrived in the belief that they would enjoy a network television moment. Instead they had to settle for a website interview, which in gastronomic terms was like substituting a main course of caviar and salmon with a dollop of steamed halibut.

Once they'd all got over the initial disappointment, though, everyone was in good humour, no-one more so than Times restaurant critic Giles Coren.

Giles was bemoaning - but secretly enjoying, I think - the fact that he'd been castigated on our Heathman page for the second time in a month, firstly for abusing his newspaper's sub editors, then for comments about Polish immigrants.

As he himself admitted, at this rate he'll soon run out of people to offend.

As we chatted Suggs, who was there to present an award, inexplicably showered us with potato crisps. This may not have been a novel experience in the turbulent life of Mr Coren but it certainly was for me. I could only speculate that the former Madness frontman, now turned roving television reporter, is on the payroll of the United Federation of Dissident Sub Editors.

At any rate, I found myself checking my hair for stray crisps as I chatted briefly with Emma Bunton about her Hampstead days, then shared a few pleasantries with it-girl Sophie Anderton, famous for her cocaine-fuelled romps with footballer Mark Bosnich, but looking extremely composed and very much in control.

There was only just time to talk to the extremely affable Duncan Bannatyne about my brilliant idea for a range of Dragons Den shops around the country, profitably trading in all the madcap stuff the Dragons have rejected. ''Nah man, do your research. It's all on eBay anyway,'' he admonished, in that thick Scottish burr of his. And as he went off in search of his missing wife, he dismissed my protestations with just two words - ''I'm out.'' Dreams die this quickly in the hire and fire world of the entrepreneurial Dragons.

Geoff Martin

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