In Conversation with Richard Vines and Pierre Koffmann

In Conversation with Richard Vines and Pierre Koffmann. Borough Market hosted an evening with the talented Richard Vines, the Chief Food Critic for Bloomberg and the legendary chef Pierre Koffmann.

I couldn’t contain my excitement before, nor during the event. I have never seen Pierre Koffmann’s name on any of the foodie circuits. His charming wife Claire confirmed later in the evening that he doesn’t usually do events like this. How fortunate was I that my husband Jason had seen the event advertised via his Bloomberg app.

The event’s organisers YPlan, had piles of blankets waiting on a table besides Pierre’s famous book called Memories of Gascony.  Richard fittingly wrote the Forward for the book. 19 of the industry greats have written within the inside cover of his book. This shows the love and respect for Pierre within the industry, there is no better validation than from your peers.

Harnessing the setting of being within Borough Market, the seating for the talk was informal. Long benches with brown paper goodie bags, each containing the Borough Market News, the History of Borough Market, a leaflet for Pierre’s book and a pencil. On the stage a water jug and two glasses were set on upturned apple crates, a great reminder of the historic setting.

Richard set a warm tone for the evening, with open honest dialogue and the audience free to ask questions. He opened by saying that the night before, Pierre received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the National Restaurant Awards. Pierre brushed off Richard’s congratulations with the comment that he received the award because he was old. At that point you knew you were sitting in front of a very unassuming man.

As I thought of a question, the talented Richard Vines would pose it. His flow impressively from memory and the journey through Pierre’s life, painted a wonderful tapestry of the path that led him to his 3 Michelin Stars and more recently Koffmann’s at the Berkeley.

Pierre came across as understated, honest and has a genuine love for the kitchen and perfecting the French cuisine. Not many chefs have the ability to mentor and nurture new talent to the degree that Pierre has. To teach others in the kitchen environment takes a certain person. Learning in a restaurant kitchen epitomises on the job training.  Pierre has continued to succeed in transferring his knowledge to new talent. He has had many protégés, the two most successful in the public eye are Gordon Ramsey and Marco Pierre White.

I love learning from people and hearing about their journeys. I am always keen to know what drives them and draw on their pearls of wisdom. This is what I learnt from the talk and felt honoured that my children could hear first hand what Pierre and Richard discussed. I have condensed the hour long discussion to one liners from the talk. I hope you will ponder each sentence and apply it to your paths or daily lives. If you have anyone in your circle who wants to become a chef the values and ideals that Pierre discussed are ones that would stand them in great stead.

Pierre’s Pearls of Wisdom

The difference between good food and bad food is a pinch of salt.

You have to have passion.

I enjoy cooking, if you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it.

Go to work with a smile on your face.

Be passionate and work very hard.

Balance your family life and work.

Being a chef is a fantastic job.

With a donkey you don’t make a racing horse.

I was a tough boss, like a rugby captain, you have your team and they have to do what the captain says.

Taste your food, a lot of young chefs don’t taste their food.

Asked how do you spot talent, Pierre said in two weeks you know if someone has passion.

Things you may not know about Pierre:

He played and loves watching rugby.

Favourite cuisine – Chinese is his and Claire’s go to comfort food namely A Wong’s in Victoria.

Dislikes: Red Chillies.

A question was posed by someone in the audience, asking Pierre if he could have done things differently would he and if he had any regrets. The answer was no on both fronts. How wonderful is it to get to your mid sixties and not have wanted to have done anything differently.

To taste Pierre’s food book a table at Koffmann’s at The Berkeley

We all get caught up in your daily routine, sometimes mid week to break the routine of every day life. I would suggest booking a memories making event like this one. There are talks happening all over the world, look beyond the organisation of getting to the event, think of the end goal, a memory for life.

The transcript has just been released, read more by clicking this link: Borough Market In Conversation with Pierre Koffmann and Richard Vines borough talks logo