Hospitality Business Magazine

Clarkson’s Diddly Squat restaurant seeks ‘wise old soul’

Proving that a shortage of skilled staff is a global hospitality issue, television personality, Jeremy Clarkson is seeking out a ‘wise old soul’ to run his new 60-seat restaurant at Diddly Squat farm in Oxfordshire.

The 61-year-old Grand Tour host, who owns the 1,000-acre site in the UK’s Cotswolds, said he valued a person of years and experience to head up the new establishment, which will sell his own beef and produce.

In recent weeks, Clarkson has reportedly said he intends to undercut local gastro pubs with cheaper, hearty meals, while countering the flood of cheap meat in the market after the UK’s trade deals with Australia and Canada.

In a typically wry column for The Sunday Times, Clarkson lamented how Britain is currently facing shortages because of a lack of skilled workers available. But Mr Clarkson argued that age shouldn’t make a difference when it comes to employment.

A book recording the events on the farm is due for release in New Zealand on November 16 from Penguin publishers.

He wrote: ‘Old people are very happy to sit about in their inconti-trousers, doing nothing all day, and then moaning about how young people are all too spoilt and entitled to get off their backsides.’

The television personality countered this by citing the achievements of tennis star, Emma Raducanu, or his hardworking apprentice Kaleb Cooper, ‘who’s basically an 18-hour-a-day Duracell bunny’.

‘I see lots of driven young people every day but rarely do I see an older person charging round the place, all elbows and fire and steeling determination. Which means there’s a vast and experienced pool of talent going to waste.’

Setting out a plea for an employee with experience, he added: ‘I want a kitchen full of pies and gravy and wipe-down chairs and Bad Company on the stereo and everyone exchanging bewildered looks when someone asks for the transgender lavatories.’ 

Earlier this month, Mr Clarkson called a meeting with local residents, having invoked the ire of his neighbours over the growing popularity of Diddly Squat with tourists. 

Hundreds of fans from across Britain have queued for hours at a time to get inside the farm shop since his fly-on-the-wall series, Clarkson’s Farm, landed on UK’s Amazon Prime channel and unexpectedly took the country by storm.

Police have even been called out to manage traffic chaos caused by Clarkson fans descending on his farm in the hope of meeting the TV star and to check out his stock, which includes honey, chutney and T-shirts. 

He has faced further controversy over plans to convert the disused lambing shed on his farm Diddly Squat – named as such because it made no money – and to use it for a kitchen serving meals for £30 ($60.00) -a-head.

He recently called a meeting with local residents at the Memorial Hall in Chadlington to discuss the issue, admitting that he himself has found the crowds ‘a bloody nuisance and you have my absolute sympathy’. 

Mr Clarkson said: ‘They like to come in and wee on my drive. I am just as keen as all of you to try and manage the situation’. 

He also offered VIP passes for villagers and to fund a large no speeding sign.  During the heated clash with villagers, one local man raged: ‘The thing is Mr Clarkson, you are not a farmer. You are a media personality and farming to you is a sideline. But this is our village and we have to live with the consequences.’ 

But others were vociferous in their support for Clarkson.

Several times in the meeting, Clarkson pitched himself as the hard-pressed farmer, having to diversify to make ends meet. He spoke of the impossibility of competing against Australian imports and referenced the ending of subsidies. 

One audience member criticised his decision to change the name of the farm from its original title, Curdle Hill Farm. Clarkson said it still officially had that name and Diddly Squat was a trading name, adding : ‘Diddly Squat… which is how much money it is making.’ 

He added: ‘We were overwhelmed by what happened after the show launched. We had no idea of the impact it would have. Now we can stop and think about how we can continue to employ 15 people on the farm and making it grow while not spoiling anyone’s life in the village.’

Speaking previously about the farm shop’s success, Clarkson said: ‘I mean, if we’d built a nuclear power station I could understand their concerns, but not a tiny farm shop.’

The broadcaster bought the plot of land in 2008 and Clarkson’s Farm follows the presenter’s highs and lows of tackling the 1,000 acre working farm. A book recording the events on the farm is due for release in New Zealand on November 16 from Penguin publishers.

The presenter recently revealed he was ‘the happiest he has ever been’ and that he ‘loved every second’ of filming the new hit show. His Diddly Squat shop is described as a ‘small barn full of good, no-nonsense things’ on its official website.