A Very Ambitious Ambition

With life speeding past at ever greater speed, or so it seems, I sometimes reflect on how and why I got where I am, here at Pied à Terre.

It was an ambition, a very ambitious ambition to own my own restaurant and to work for myself.  A way of life ingrained at home, with both parents being entrepreneurs and both committed and successful in their endeavours.

These things don’t happen by chance, it’s not without reason that Pied à Terre has survived 34 years, it is because I’m well trained, taught in my trade by the very best, with a six year old-fashioned apprenticeship working for Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir.

I had a yearning for knowledge, a desire to know the best, that took me in 1986 to work for Raymond Blanc.  I was suited in a white jacket, white shirt and a dickie bow, with highly polished shoes with an electric shaver so I could shave between shifts!

I joined Raymond’s team as a spotty 20 year old, full of chutzpah, charm (I hope) and a thirst for knowledge.

The following are not my words, no, they are the words of Raymond himself – some years later, after he had invested in the opening of Pied à Terre.

When I look back to the early 90s, I see a British gastronomy scene that was very confused. It was a food Revolution, of course, but sometimes a complete mess as chefs embraced fusion, mixing together cuisines from different cultures it was sort of a (con) fusion. While at times the result was disastrous, at least it was moving forward; progress was on its way.

Such is the benefit of hindsight. Looking back, we can see that we have had to pass through this confusion in order to be where we are today.

Two men who would make a huge contribution to the British gastronomy scene were David Moore and Richard Neat. And I am proud that in their early careers they worked for me at le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.

In the spirit of Proust’s Things of Remembrance Past, I shall speak of these two ambitious, spirited and talented man.

I first met David in 1986, when he joined the team at Le Manoir. He was young, fresh, eager and quick to learn. He also had a twinkle of ambition in the eyes. David was a brilliant host. He became number 2 to Monsieur Alain, and I knew that he had all the skills of hospitality and hosting.

I was very happy to help with his venture and have followed his progress since.

Well over three decades he has proved me right by becoming a flamboyant (his shirts are famed) restaurateur, and a great entrepreneur on the London hospitality scene.

Having worked with him on many of my projects such as the TV series and more, I know him well. David is a good family man, a fighter in the face of adversity, and ready to help and encourage others with expertise. He is a great friend and colleague.

Richard was an extraordinary chef. I love Richard. He is a highly creative man, very focused and with a good brain. He had worked with me for two years and has all the skills necessary for greatness.

I never doubted that Richard and David would succeed. I did not invest a huge amount of money but it was my endorsement that would attract other investors – if RB is interested then maybe we should invest, too.

Some might say I was foolish, not only to lose two of my top men, but then to help them financially. I am delighted to have done so. I always believed in them and their skills. They were taking on a small business, but it was beautifully positioned in a busy street in London, a “food street”, known for its restaurants.

Although the geography of the business was good, there were limitations – the kitchen was tiny, for instance. But they overcame the limitations; they crossed the hurdles, and created a beautiful and very special jewel box of gastronomy.

I have visited Pied à Terre often and it is, as I say, a jewel box. I have always tried to teach my chefs to go for truth and purity, because the trends will come and go; that is why they are trends. The Pied à Terre approach, along with the extraordinary talented chefs, has given a massive advantage over their competitors.

It is always pleasing to see young people succeed.

It was heart-warming and rewarding to see their vision in 1991 become a reality, they set out to accomplish something and they achieved it… And some more…

Tip Top.


USE. AND REUSE.

We ask our suppliers to use recyclable or reusable packaging, and we recycle everything we possibly can – cardboard, paper, bottles, batteries, electrical items, and of course, food. Careful planning and ordering ensures that our food waste is minimal, and we work with the waste management company First Mile to ensure that unavoidable food waste is used to make renewable energy. When food waste goes to landfill, it decomposes under uncontrolled conditions and releases methane, which is 23 times more dangerous to the planet than carbon dioxide.

We have a zero-tolerance policy on single-use plastic for storing food in the kitchen.

All oils and fats used in the kitchen are collected and recycled into biofuel.

PARTNERS WE CAN ALL TRUST

Fresh, excellent produce is at the heart of what we do. We only work with suppliers who share our ethos. We collaborate to help minimise our impact and identify local, smaller and sustainable food and wine suppliers across our industry. All our suppliers provide us with full traceability; we know exactly where our produce comes from, how it is sourced, and visits to our suppliers are a highlight in the restaurant calendar. Only sustainable fish from the UK is used at the restaurant, and 100% of this is from day boats. We are very mindful of food miles and constantly working to minimise and reduce them. We are also involved in a number of deforestation initiatives e.g., for every litre sold of our Sapling vodka a tree is planted in the UK.

Our Pelegrims grape bathroom lotions are rich in anti-oxidants and vitamins as they are made using waste products from the wine making process from local vineyard Westwell in Kent. Our toilet paper from Who Gives a Crap is 100% bamboo fibres. Bamboo is grass and grows incredibly quickly, making it very sustainable. 50% of Who Gives a Crap profits help build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world. All our bathrooms products are ethical, sustainable and also vegan.

We endeavour to decorate the restaurant with plants as opposed to fresh flowers. Where fresh flowers are used, they are sourced from sustainable florists/markets.