Winners are selected in recognition of excellence and success within their chosen category, having shown a significant improvement in the preceding 12 - 18 months and proving their dedication to raising industry standards and enhancing both their guest and diner experiences. All winners feature in the new 2017 edition of the relevant AA Lifestyle Guide.
These best-selling guides continue to promote the AA’s range of assessed, recommended and quality-assured places to eat and stay through the UK and Ireland.
Pierre Koffmann has been one of the undisputed heavyweights of the British restaurant scene since he arrived in England in the early 1970s. Born in Tarbes, Gascony in 1948, he spent childhood holidays with his maternal grandparents, Camille and Marcel, on their farm at Saint Puy, a small village near Tarbes. Although his mother was a good cook, it was his grandmother who inspired him the most. Living off the land and cooking as the seasons dictated on a big open fire. Leaving school at 14, he tried for jobs with the post office and French railway, but eventually opted for the local cookery school. Arriving in London at the age of 22, his original plan was only to stay for six months, but he quickly found a job working for Michel and Albert Roux at Le Gavroche. Within six months he had been promoted to sous chef and was soon appointed head chef at the Roux Brothers’ Waterside Inn at Bray, where he stayed for five years. In 1977, with his first wife, Annie, he opened their first restaurant, La Tante Claire, in Chelsea and it quickly gained a reputation as one of the best dining experiences in London. Two decades later, he took up residency in the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge, where he continued to cook until he decided to hang up his apron in 2003.
However, his retirement was short-lived. In 2009, he made a high-profile comeback running a pop-up version of La Tante Claire on the roof of Selfridges. The original one-week event sold out immediately and it continued for two months, during which time he served up 3,200 plates of his signature dish of pig’s trotters stuffed with chicken mousseline, sweetbreads and morel mushrooms. The huge success of this pop-up inspired him to make an unexpected return to The Berkeley Hotel with partner and business partner Claire Harrison, to open Koffmann’s, a restaurant offering a relaxed, informal style with classic provincial French cuisine inspired by the food enjoyed as a child in rural Gascony. During his career, he has trained a number of chefs including Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White, Marcus Wareing and Jason Atherton. With so many culinary giants working under him over the years, this chef’s ongoing influence on the British restaurant scene is immeasurable.
Giovanna Grossi, AA Group Area Manager, said, ‘We are delighted to honour the amazing Pierre Koffman with our lifetime achievement award this year. He has been a truly inspirational chef and the London restaurant scene has been so lucky to benefit from his amazing passion and talent for a huge portion of his career. Inspired by the infamous Roux Brothers, Pierre went on himself to inspire and develop so many incredibly talented chefs. He is a true example of how passion, hard work and dedication can allow you to stay at the top of your game for so long; in his case for an incredible 50 years. A true gentleman and hugely admired, respected and loved by his peers, he is an ambassador and a true great of our industry who is thoroughly deserving of this prestigious award.’
Guests at the event, hosted by Hugh Dennis, were treated to a gastronomic menu created by the 2015 AA Chefs’ Chef, Daniel Clifford.
The winners of the 2016 AA Hospitality Awards are:
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