Here’s the latest instalment of a new series where leading retail executives recall memorable occasions spent celebrating a new job, cutting a big deal, winning a large order, or just enjoying life in a specific pub, bar or restaurant.

Richard Pennycook, group finance director at Morrisons recalls a trip on the Orient Express and a meal in the renowned Fortuny Restaurant at the Hotel Cipriani in Venice.

“Seven or eight years ago for my wife’s 40th birthday we went to Venice on the Orient Express and while in the city we decided to dine in the restaurant at the Hotel Cipriani. Before the trip I mentioned this to Egon Ronay [the late pioneering restaurant critic] who had become a friend of mine after we’d worked together for Welcome Break [before I joined Morrisons].

We were just chatting and he raved about it as being a great place and suggested I mention his name to the Maitre d’ who had been working there for donkey’s years. So during our visit to Venice we went for the birthday dinner at the Cipriani. We had a fantastic table with wonderful views over the water and we passed on Egon’s regards. The tradition of chefs eating in each other’s restaurants is to offer a free glass of Champagne and my wife and I received the same.

We then had the most fabulous meal that went on for hours and we toasted Egon and chatted about life in general. But then when we came to pay the bill there was no way they would take a payment from us. We really had indulged and we were so embarassded at not paying. I was just pleased I’d not gone for an 1850 Chateau Margaux or something! This was typical of Egon and I’m still not sure what words he had said to them.”

Location: 10 Giudecca, Venice, Italy
Likely to spend Euros 70 on two courses.
Likely to spend an arm and a leg on a bottle of wine.
Likely to find Spider-crab Venetian style in its own shell on the menu.