Michel Roux Jr has called him ‘the complete chef’, The Guardian, a ‘God’ and Tom Kitchin, ‘a true master’, so when Pierre Koffmann opened his new restaurant - Koffmann’s at The Berkeley – in the summer of 2010, there was little need for manufactured hype. Simply put, this marked a return to the kitchen for one of the greatest chefs ever to grace British shores.
The former La Tante Claire Chef Patron had grown bored of his early retirement, (as Koffmann attests, there is only so much fishing one man can take) ultimately deciding the heat of the kitchen was to where he must return,<br />
‘When you are a chef, your place is in the kitchen’, he told the Guardian around the point of his comeback.<br />
Pierre Koffmann originally hails from Gascony, a region of France distinguished by its love of food and prime terroir. His father was a Citroen mechanic, his mother worked for the local council, yet, for a young Pierre Koffmann a career in gastronomy beckoned. And after wisely ignoring a prediction from his final year catering college report that he would, ‘never do anything in the restaurant business’, the young chef began to work his way round France and then Switzerland.<br />
Koffmann arrived in Britain in the early 70’s, fuelled by an ambition to watch his beloved France (Rugby team) play England at Twickenham. Yet, after landing a job at Le Gavroche – the Jean-Pierre Rives of the fine-dining world, perhaps – Koffmann never did return to his homeland.<br />
While he undoubtedly benefited from working under the Roux brothers at Le Gavroche, Koffmann himself is often credited with launching the careers of many of the finest contemporary chefs while Chef Patron at La Tante Claire - Tom Aikens, Tom Kitchin, Marco Pierre White and Bruno Loubet all answered to Koffmann at some stage of their careers and between them his various protégés now hold over 20 Michelin stars.<br />
At La Tante Claire, Koffmann set new standards for British restaurants, earning and retaining three Michelin stars over a fatiguing 30 years of service.<br />
His cooking is undeniably refined; classical yet humble, with provincial French touches grounding the skilful elegance of the food. Taking inspiration from his Gascon roots, Koffmann artfully extracts extraordinary flavour from ordinary ingredients and cuts. Rabbit, snails and foie gras feature prominently and famed dishes include pistachio soufflé with pistachio ice cream and pig’s trotters with chicken mousseline and morels.<br />
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Koffmann's at The Berkeley
The food served is a seasonally inspired menu of French brasserie favourites with Koffmann's legendary signature dishes delivered with a surprisingly light touch. Dishes of souffléd skate with lobster sauce, hand-dived scallops with ink sauce and cauliflower purée and the famed pig's trotter stuffed with sweetbreads and morels all make an appearance on a menu designed to wow as well as satisfy.
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