Two of the U.K.’s most famous chefs (of yesteryear) have announced a somewhat surprising collaboration: Marco Pierre White and Pierre Koffmann will open a new restaurant together at The Abbey Hotel, in Bath, this September. Richard Vines announced the unlikely match-up on Twitter this morning, suggesting that a roll-out was in the pipeline from White’s Black & White Hospitality (formerly known as New York Italian Limited).
White said of his old mentor, Koffmann: “For many, many, many years I reflected on my career and one of my deepest regrets was not spending more time with Pierre in the kitchen. I am looking forward to being the apprentice once again.” It was in the early 1980s that White worked for Koffmann, at Tante Claire in Chelsea — before opening his own, seminal restaurant — Harvey’s in Wandsworth. The latter was awarded two Michelin stars, making White the youngest ever chef to have led a kitchen with the accolade. (He later helped earn Hyde Park Hotel restaurant three Michelin stars.)
More recently, White has found himself headlining less onerous “feastivals”, regional newspapers and stock cube adverts while fending off lacerating restaurant reviews, so the collaboration with a longtime mentor — and one of the most admired chefs in the industry — will come as happy respite.
Koffmann, meanwhile, has been quiet since the closure of his signature restaurant at the Berkeley in 2016: he appeared as a guest chef and playlist DJ at Dan Barber’s sustainably sourced, unsustainably priced “WastED” pop-up on the Selfridges roof in early 2017. He was expected to take the tenth and only vacant site at the Bloomberg Arcade in the City, but has since pulled out. “Marco is one of the most talented chefs I have ever worked with. I am very much looking forward to our collaboration,” he said of his partner.
Neither chef’s legacy in London and the culinary world at large can be underestimated, but the pairing might be labeled a conspicuously retrograde take on the British food and restaurant industry of 2018. White, for sure, fits the dated archetype of the “rockstar chef”, contrasting the “elevation” of food and their ascension to greatness with a cavalier attitude to the health, safety and fortunes of other people.
The restaurant itself — where, one has to assume, neither chef will actually cook — is described, somewhat meekly, as serving “good quality, affordable food” in a “relaxed, stylish and unpretentious” environment — descriptors that a restaurant must open with in 2018, but which are new to the Pierre White stable.
More on this nothing if not lucrative endeavour soon.