Fred Sirieix interview for First Dates Hotel
First Dates Hotel starts on Monday 8th January at 10pm on Channel 4
First Dates Hotel is back for a second series, but it’s not in the same place this time, is it?
No, we are in Italy this time, near Naples.
What was it like there?
Oh, it’s beautiful. Beautiful scenery, very nice and hilly, and you’ve got the sea not far away, it was fantastic.
As a Frenchman, were you appalled that it had been moved from France?
No! I love Italy, and it’s nice to travel and to see different places and experience different people, and ways of being and living. It’s really good there. I like the food. It was very good.
For those who haven’t seen First Dates Hotel, explain what the difference is from First Dates.
Well, the major difference is that people come for a holiday, for two or three days. So when you are in the First dates restaurant, because you come in for one meal, some people could be finishing work at 11 o’clock, and come into the restaurant at 12, for their date. Whereas in First Dates Hotel, people are fully immersed, and the only thing they have to think about is their date. So they are completely immersed in the experience, and this is the best way to start romance blossoming.
Do you think a romantic setting like that has an effect on the dates, and the mood at the hotel?
Oh, definitely. The sun is shining, it’s a beautiful setting, you’re far away from everywhere, and all you have to do is worry about yourself and worry about your date.
When Brits go on holiday, they have a bit of a reputation. Did everyone behave themselves?
Yeah, they do behave themselves. I mean, some people have more fun than others, but people were very good, very nice, very respectful, very, very good.
Do you think the British and the French have a different approach to romance?
I think that, fundamentally, we want the same thing. You can see from the programme that people are quite straightforward, and quite forward. Some people are more reserved than others, but people just say it as it is, don’t they? I think the approach is the same, whether you’re British or French.
How did the staff enjoy being away? Did they find it hard work, working in the hotel, with their extra duties?
They love it. They love it! We had such a good time. It was really brilliant, because it was a new place, which is exciting. We get on very well, so we had a ball, really.
There was a new Italian waiter who joined the team – he seemed quite popular with the ladies…
Yes, Francesco was a very good looking guy. Very, very good looking guy. Laura was drooling!
When First Dates began, did you ever have any inkling how successful it would become?
No. And I didn’t do it for that reason. I thought it was going to be good, but I didn’t think it was going to be as big as it has become. I never in a million years thought that.
How has it changed your life?
Well, I’m still working in the same restaurant I was working in before, Galvin at Windows, on top of the London Hilton on Park Lane. So from that perspective, it hasn’t changed things much. I do get recognised in the street, but that’s it.
You’ve never been tempted to quit the day job?
No, because I like what I do. We have a lovely team. It’s a lovely restaurant, and I really enjoy it. So, no, it hasn’t crossed my mind.
Do you get asked for romantic advice a lot by the public?
Yes, from time to time it happens.
What would you say to someone who is going on a date and is very nervous?
Well, I think you have to look at the people and know who you are talking to, who is asking the question. You have to ascertain what they are saying, and also what’s behind it. You have to give them an honest answer and response, but also, bearing in mind them as people. I think sometimes people have mental blocks. It’s important to be subtle and yet truthful. So it’s finding the right balance, and being quite measured with your answers, so that it helps people. Because obviously, if they’re asking for help, they may be having trouble. I’m very mindful of the responsibility that I have.
Your restaurant has a very romantic setting. Do people often propose there?
Yeah, we have two or three proposals every week.
Are you ever asked to help out with that?
Sometimes, and sometimes no. People want to do what they want to do. I remember a chap coming up about six months ago, and he was so nervous, he didn’t know what to do, and was asking for advice. And I said “Well, look, if you’re so nervous, just come in and get on with it as soon as you arrive, because this way you get to enjoy the evening. Otherwise you’re not going to enjoy the food or the wine, and it’s not going to be fun for you.
Which couples from First Dates really stick out for you over the years?
Well, Aarron and Ibiba just had a daughter, so that was pretty incredible. They really must top the bill on that one, with this baby now.
If you were looking for love, would you go on a show like First Dates?
Why not? At least you know you’re in the right hands. People who care, and will do all they can to get you matched with the right person. That’s what we do.
On the form, what would you say you were looking for in a date?
I think somebody fun, somebody exciting, somebody that you can have a conversation with, somebody you can have a connection with. I think, like everybody else, I’d say the same things.
First Dates Hotel starts on Monday 8th January at 10pm on Channel 4.
January 5, 2018 2:57pm ET by Channel 4