Along with her Russian partner, Yevgeny Chichvarkin, Tatiana Fokina is the CEO of Hedonism Wines, a fine wine and spirits boutique in the heart of Mayfair, and Hide, a three-floor bar and restaurant in London’s Piccadilly.
Online Editor, Simon Wittenberg, caught up with Tatiana Fokina, the driving force behind the concept and success of both businesses.
LM: Before coming to the UK, you previously ran an art gallery in St. Petersburg and have also worked in luxury retail. Why did you change career direction and how did you meet your partner?
TF: I would not necessarily view it as a career change, as Hedonism Wines is possibly one of the most luxurious retail brands. However, it is a friendly type of luxury, and an affordable one too. Wherever I worked, I was always very keen to offer the best customer service possible – this is also ingrained in the DNA of both our current businesses. I met Evgeny at a job interview in 2010 when he was looking for someone to oversee the inception of Hedonism Wines.
LM: How did your love for wines start, and which are your favourites?
TF: Unfortunately, I was not exposed to good wine while growing up in Russia as it was not part of the culture. It is still quite hard to buy something good there and the prices can be quite prohibitive. It was a huge learning curve for me when we were working on the Hedonism project, but I had the best teacher – our head buyer, Alistair Viner. He generously shared his knowledge and passion for wine with us. I love old vintage champagne and white Burgundy. If I had to pick one, I would say Henri Giraud Argonne.
LM: Hide has the biggest wine list available in Europe, with over 6,500 varieties to choose from. What criteria do you use when selecting them, and how do you capitalise on the latest trends?
TF: A visit to Hide is not just an opportunity to sample the finest Michelin star cuisine, but also the chance to pair it with the best wines in the world, whatever your budget. Our aim is to offer customers at the restaurant the opportunity to access an unparalleled range of wines and spirits in an easy and attainable way.
There’s a knowledgeable and professional team of sommeliers who make this potentially daunting process an easy and fun one. We offer the best wines from every region and at every price point. From quirky, up-and-coming wines from obscure regions at £40, to large format Bordeaux from 1961 and rare Japanese whisky.
We are always on the lookout for older vintages with good provenance. I would not say that there are many trends in the wine industry, however, this is definitely more apparent with spirits. We have an amazing buying team who can always find bottles that could be of interest to our guests, thanks to our extensive supplier list and reputation.
LM: What were your inspirations for the stunning interior features of Hide, such as the botanical plaster panels and twisted oak staircase?
TF: A lot of inspiration came from my trip to Japan – I found the approach to natural materials, textures and light there truly fascinating. I think Rachel Dein’s botanical panneaux compliment Ollie’s menu wonderfully. He uses a lot of botanicals and flowers in his dishes – they have that refined lightness in common.
LM: What sets Hide apart from other fine dining experiences in London, and why did you choose to work with Ollie Dabbous who came on board in 2016?
TF: We loved Ollie’s eponymous Dabbous as customers (although it was almost impossible to get a table), so it was only natural for us to approach him when we were starting the project.
We very quickly realised that not only do we see eye to eye on food, but on lots of other things too. We have the same work ethic and can always have a good laugh. I am actually in love with some of his culinary creations, and sometimes daydream about them when I have not had time to eat.
Hide offers an incredible choice of consistently delicious dishes, of course, accompanied by Europe’s largest wine list and the world’s best spirits selection. One of the key USPs is the accessibility of this wine list. I think many people do not realise we do not have a restaurant mark up, on them. The wines are priced at retail price from Hedonism with a corkage fee on top, which makes any top-end wine much cheaper than in any other restaurant.
There is also such a variety of experiences at Hide: from an early breakfast with the most amazing croissants to great lunch at Hide Above with a view over Green Park that can be done in less than an hour. There are fantastic cocktails at the bar Below on a Thursday night accompanied with great music, or a special occasion in one of our five private dining rooms.
And aside from all this, I think it is one of the most beautiful restaurants in London, not glitzy and kitsch, but tasteful and cosy and yet, completely stunning.