'I Can Tell Straight Away If A Couple Will Have Another Date' We Speak To Fred The Maître d' From First Dates
The Debrief: With Channel 4's First Dates back on our screens, Fred, the French restaurant manager fills us in on what he's learned about love
There's one thing that keeps you coming back to Channel 4's First Dates week after week. No, it's not the unbearable levels of awkward that can arise from whacking two complete strangers together on a date in front of cameras, nor is it the major feels that come when an old couple raise a randy eyebrow at each other over their banana split. Nope, the enduring excellence of the show lies in Fred the French maitre d' of the restaurant where the show is set. With twinkly eyed wisdom and an encyclopedic knowledge about what makes a good match, he's probably the closest thing we have IRL to Rowan Atkinson's mysterious and slightly magical love-matching character in Love Actually.
Anyways, Fred. Fred is dreamy. Obvs. But also Fred is the first face that the the nervous First Daters see when they arrive, dressed to the nines (or not in some unfortunate cases) ready to meet their new potential partner. Some are nervous, some stupidly confident, some are drunk already (actually quite a lot of them have had a couple of drinks beforehand. Ah Britain, we are a nation of socially awkward fools). Either way, Fred knows what to do to put them at ease.
'You've just got to put yourself in people's shoes and look at the situation from their point of view,' Fred says when I ask him what his magic trick is for putting nervous daters at ease. 'Everybody's got a switch indies their head that goes relax and chill out and enjoy the ride". Once you find that switch people can be true to themselves and enjoy the experience and remember why they are there in the first place.'
Fred's worked in restaurants for 25 years (when he's not captaining the good ship First Dates, he's heading up the super swanky Galvin at Windows in Park Lane (don't look, you can't afford it, it'll make you sad). Over that time he's got to have seen countless dates, has his experience helped him figure out which couples are going to work? 'When you work in restaurants for this long it's like you live 100 years,' He says poetically. 'When you see people coming [to the restaurant] you always that *that* feeling based on past experience. You look at people and they way they smile then you just see how they're going to fit in with somebody else. In the last few days we filmed there were a few couples that were just [clicks fingers]. They went for seconds dates and I just knew it was going to happen as soon as they walked in. It's quite interesting.'
So, has he ever got it wrong? 'No' he says shortly.
What about good date ettiquette; surely he's witnessed a lot of good (and bad) behaviours over the years? 'You've got to be honest with yourself and know what you want.' He advises. 'You've want to be on this earth, not flaky and then listen to what the other person says and see the other person for what she or he is and then just go with it. It you are a reasonable person who likes life then that's half the battle.'
One BIG nono in Fred's book though is getting battered pre-date. 'It's a VERY bad idea.' He says sternly. 'This time around we had a guy who just had a little bit too much before he came in and he asked for a shot and I just didn't servie it. I said "I'm keeping you safe". It's [getting drunk] is wrong. It's really, really wrong. It's not very nice to talk to someone if they're drunk.'
So what's Fred's favourite part about his job as dating maestro? 'Ah' he smiles. 'The best part is when they arrive because this is the moment when they're going to meet and there is an intial 10 seconds when you can see whther there's going to be a spark. It's all within the first minute that people know whether they're going to like each other or not and whether they're into" dating" mode or they're into the friendzone or "I don't like you" mode. Within the first minute this is when it's all set.'
And with that, he shrugs on his satin cape, leaps atop his majestic horse and rides off into the night, ready to duel anyone who dares to besmirch the purity of true love*.
*Not really. I just put the phone down, but that's probably what happened at his end.
First Dates is back on Channel 4, Thurs 10 Sept at 10PM
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MIC LA 4: Toff Is Not Easily Led, JP Can’t Be Read And Jess And Jamie Biscuits Get Into Bed
Georgia From First Dates Tells Us Why She Didn't Go Back Out With Alex
What It's Really Like To Appear On First Dates
Follow Jess on Twitter @Jess_Commons
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