One of the most respected names in the restaurant world, Pierre Koffmann has been cooking for 50 years and has mentored some of the best-known names in the industry. Following on from his guest appearance at the FOOD AND WINE Awards 2019, we profile one of the biggest talents in food.
Koffmann's love of food comes from his childhood in south-west France when his grandparents taught him to cook. At just 14 years of age, he studied for three years at a local cookery school before going on to work as a chef in Strasbourg and Toulon, perfecting the regional French dishes he is known for today.
In 1970 he moved to the UK, starting out with Michel and Albert Roux at Le Gavroche as sous chef before becoming Head Chef at their new Waterside Inn in Bray. In 1977, he opened his own restaurant with his first wife Annie; La Tante Claire in Chelsea, London. Koffmann’s style of cooking was a revolution in the London food scene and had a huge influence. “I was the first chef to dust the inside of a soufflé with grated chocolate instead of with sugar," he says, "the first in London to do confit salmon, and the first to serve beef cheeks, too.” La Tante Claire went on to obtain three Michelin stars after six years. The restaurant moved to The Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge in 1998, and remained there until Pierre retired in 2003.
Koffmann is hugely respected in the industry and has mentored a host of talented chefs who have gone on to great acclaim themselves, including Tom Aikens, Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White, Marcus Wareing, Bruno Loubet, and Jason Atherton.
After spending six years as a consultant, Koffmann came out of retirement in 2009 and opened a pop-up of La Tante Claire on the roof at Selfridges in London. The two-week pop-up became a two-month residency, a testament to Koffmann - and his cooking's - enduring popularity.
He was tempted back into the kitchen at The Berkeley Hotel and opened Koffmann’s with his wife Claire. The less formal eatery serves the same regional French fare from his childhood and in October 2018 Koffmann teamed up with Marco Pierre White to open Koffmann and Mr. White’s at the Abbey Hotel in Bath, England.
While Koffmann is renowned for his cooking expertise, after mastering his skills in the kitchen for 50 years, he is also known for his mentoring and championing of new talent in the industry. A new generation of chefs, and diners, have much to thank him for.