Pierre Koffmann is currently the head chef of Koffmann’s at The Berkeley hotel in Knightsbridge, London. The French-born chef who has worked mainly in the United Kingdom. He was one of a handful of chefs in the United Kingdom to have been awarded the coveted three Michelin stars at his restaurant La Tante Claire in London.
This might sound strange coming from a chef but good food in a restaurant is not enough – you need smiling waiters, you need good company, you need ambience.
For this meal, I’d have bouillabaisse. There’s a bouillabaisse place that Claire, my wife, and I often go to in Cap d’Antibes, called the Restaurant de Bacon. Last time we went for lunch, there was an old guy and a lady a little younger than him at the next table. They started to sing songs, not loudly, but they were having fun. When they’d finished, the lady got up to leave, and the old guy put his hand on her bottom before following her out. I thought “Ah, they’re going to have a nice afternoon.” The waiter afterwards told me the lady was in her 70s and the guy was 96! Life is beautiful …
I have a lot of favourite dishes, but a good bouillabaisse is exceptional. It’s not something you eat on a rainy day. It has to be in Provence, sitting outside under a canopy of vine leaves, or at least on a terrace. And you have to have the whole day in front of you. First you eat the soup, and then the fish, it’s a whole meal in one dish. The saffron, the garlic, the rouille –everything about it reflects the sun.
I can do a very good bouillabaisse. I used to do it often, although the problem in London is finding the right fish – rascasse, vive, and the little fish you need for the soup … Claire would be with me, friends, and my team.
I’d want my grandmother Camille’s croustade aux pommes for dessert. You start with a layer of pastry rolled so thin that you can read the newspaper through it, as she liked to say. You put a bit of butter and sugar on it, then another layer of pastry, butter and sugar – three times. In the middle go the apples with sugar, butter and Armagnac, and then you top it all with the rest of the pastry all scrunched up, a sprinkling of sugar, a little more butter, and it’s into the oven. As soon as it’s done, you drizzle it with honey. Oh, it’s perfect.
Camille taught me how to cook. Every chef learns a lot from their grandmother. She was a paysanne and, as a child, I spent all my holidays with her on the farm.
Of course, we’d have a nice bottle of wine. A burgundy or a Côtes du Rhône. A Bâtard-Montrachet, a bit extravagant maybe. With the croustade, we would have a Château d’Yquem.
•Pierre Koffmann will be at Taste of London, 15-19 June at Regent’s Park; tasteoflondon.co.uk; @PierreKoffmann
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