Anne-Sophie Pic is the only female chef since 1933 to be awarded three Michelin stars, so expectations are high for La Dame de Pic, her UK debut restaurant at the new Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square hotel. Launching today, it builds on a portfolio which includes La Dame de Pic in Paris and the three-Michelin-starred Le Restaurant, Anne-Sophie’s flagship in Valence. We caught up with the chef to find out more.
Words: Neil Simpson
Could you sum up the new restaurant in five words?
Elegant, feminine, gourmand, professional and emotional. And amazing! Can you put that in there somewhere? The building is just amazing…
Why did you decide to bring the name La Dame de Pic to London? Does this indicate the beginning of a larger family of restaurants?
Well, we accept few projects. Obviously we have La Dame de Pic in Paris, but the decision was also due to Four Season’s requirements: they didn’t want anything too formal and they demanded something trendy, something reflective of the London scene. La Dame de Pic fits the bill perfectly, because it’s gastronomic but casual too.
Will it be similar to La Dame de Pic Paris?
Yes, there are similarities. The restaurants are both mainly white, because our designer Bruno Moinard (brunomoinardeditions.com) tried to capture the spirit of the Paris restaurant here, but adapt it too. We didn’t want to have a Parisian restaurant in London so it’s a mixture of French and English style, including beautiful paintings of flowers by a French artist, for example.
Was it always your intention to open in London?
I did not hesitate for one minute when Four Seasons suggested it. London is very special; it’s like the New York of Europe. The spirit of the people is very open and hard-working and I think that’s very good.
Can you talk us through a dish on the new menu?
We will have my signature dish, berlingots, which are pasta parcels with cheese. It’s a special shape I created and we serve them in Valence and Paris too, but the type of berlingots is unique to each restaurant. The dish is very gourmand, very visual.
I’m also going to incorporate more and more British produce, for example we will use Hereford beef, smoked with coffee and sobacha [a Japanese wheat]. The quality of the UK’s beef is just amazing and it was difficult to choose a breed. I have a chef in Valence who worked near London for ten years, so he has helped me a lot in choosing the best products. For me, good suppliers are at the core of this project and we want to persuade British people that we deserve to be here.
You have often spoken of your interest in cooking with coffee – can you tell us more?
I’m not drinking coffee so much, I drink a lot of tea. But I like fermented ingredients – I do not like actual fermentation in my cuisine, I haven’t been convinced by it so far – but I do like to use fermented ingredients, because there are so many possible flavour combinations. When you drink coffee, you might pick out rose or peach flavours, for example, so I like to use that in my cooking, to experiment. I’ve experimented a lot with the brewing, trialling Chemex for example, and that’s all embraced much more here than in Paris. In the past, I’ve made an oyster sauce with Chemex coffee, spices and whisky, for example, which might be on the menu in London. [This beetroot and Bourbon pointu coffee dish has definitely made it onto the menu].
What are you ambitions for the London restaurant?
It’s very important for me that we get the first Michelin star. Of course I would like to have a very gastronomic restaurant, but we have to balance that with the informal leanings of the project. If you have a star, customers can better understand the standards that you are delivering, but beyond that, the first thing is to have a successful restaurant. I’ll be here once a month, that’s for sure. I don’t open a restaurant and walk away: This is my image, my cuisine, and I want to be involved.
Any insider tips for diners?
We would like people to visit the kitchen. It’s all-white, very presentable and I think it’ll be nice for diners to have a bite or a dish in the kitchen. There isn’t room for diners to sit down in there, but we want people to come and the chefs to meet the diners.
What do you make of the French restaurants in London already?
I’ve been, of course, to Hélène Darroze at The Connaught. We are the same age, so I know her very well! I have also been to Céleste at The Lanesborough and I appreciate Eric Fréchon’s cuisine very much. I also like Frenchie so much, I would definitely recommend it.
Do you have an overall favourite restaurant on this side of the pond?
When I was a teenager I went to The Waterside Inn [Michel and Albert Roux’s French restaurant in Bray, pictured above] and my father was friends with Mr Roux. I think I was 17 and it was just amazing, a very good memory. I would like to go again and also discover Heston’s restaurant [The Fat Duck in Bray]. I think atmosphere is so important for a restaurant here, perhaps more than in France. So…we’ll try to have a good atmosphere!
Anne-Sophie Pic’s first UK restaurant launches today at the new Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square. Find out more and book a table at La Dame de Pic here.
This article was published 26 January 2017