“Lunch with the FT,” the revealing series of investigative journalism in the Financial Times that tells everyone exactly what the souls of powerful people are like through detailed descriptions of what they ordered for lunch, recently took on Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate in London, as its latest art-world subject. So what did we learn about his life and soul?
Mr. Serota orders olives and bread and tap
The waiter arrives. At artists’ receptions, I have observed that Serota is a sparse eater, so I vow to follow his lead rather than appear greedy. But he courteously insists that I choose first. We both pick light starters – squash tart for me, asparagus for him – which arrive quickly and are consumed without comment.
A kind man, Mr. Serota, allows his guest to order first–though he seems to be only a marginal fan of asparagus, which could mean a lot of things.
And then, the climax of the meal, and probably the most exciting moment of Mr. Serota’s life so far, the main course:
[A] simple paprika-dusted fillet of plaice with lemon-roasted new potatoes and a pepper ragout for me, and for Serota a towering concoction of bream poised on a stack of mussels, in turn wedged on a bed of tarragon-infused tomatoes, the whole topped with a heap of crispy samphire. He surveys this wryly – as if it were a metaphor for the balancing act of his job – and stabs instead at the accompanying broccoli spears.
But it is a metaphor! It’s all a metaphor! And this man HATES broccoli, stabbing it like that. All in all, the meal cost £57.48, more than Jay Jopling (£45.30), but less than Larry Gagosian (£67.85).