INFLUENCER INTERVIEW: DAVID MOORE OF PIED À TERREWed 08 2017 | admin
David Moore, founding Director and the longstanding creative force behind Pied à Terre, can regularly be seen ‘Front of House’ in Pied à Terre and sister restaurant, L’Autre Pied.
With a career that spans some of the most illustrious establishments in the country including The Box Tree in Ilkley and Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxfordshire, David’s front of house management skills have also taken him to the Louis XV in Monaco and La Belle Otero in France.
Both Pied à Terre and L’Autre Pied continue to thrive, supported by loyal food lovers and an audience of international journalists whose critical acclaim of both establishments has been united.
Q: WHEN AND HOW DID YOU START WORKING IN THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY
A: I was kind of born into it. My mum had a small hotel in Southern Ireland. I was always running around in the kitchen and helping behind the bar. My Saturday morning job was emptying the bottle skips. Polishing the ballroom floor was a always a big treat.
After that we move to Blackpool in the 70’s and they had a catering college there which I went to. It seemed like a natural progression. That’s how I really got into it. It was the obvious choice for me.
So I did an HCIMA at Blackpool college and as part of my course I had to do a placement and by a strange set of circumstances I ended up doing my placement at the Box Tree restaurant. Instead of sending in my CV I drove over and knocked on the door and introduced myself and asked if they had a placement for the summer. It was a 2 Michelin Starred restaurant at the time and I really enjoyed that level of food and service.
Then I got a career steer from the chef suggested I get myself a job at Le Manoir Aux Quat Saison. So I headed back to college to finish my course and then I spyed an advert for an Assistant Head Waiter at Le Manoir. So i went for it! I didn’t get that role but I did get a Chef de Rang position and then ultimately spent six years working at Le Manoir.
I arrived 3 hours early for my interview, had lunch at the restaurant and at 2.45pm when it was time for my interview, I called the waiter over and asked him to get the GM to join me at my table for the interview. So he sat with me at the restaurant and I told him how great I thought everything was and how much I’d love to work there. So I finished college on the 2nd July and started working their 4 days later. I didn’t know how much I was going to get paid or what my hours would be but all I knew was that I wanted to work at Le Manoir and I got it.
So over the 6 years there, I used the last 12 months investigating possible investors for my own project. It really was THE place to be back in the 80’s and we had a lot of people coming in to dine from London because there was not much of a good food scene there at the time. So ultimately a lot of investors of Pied a Tierre were guests of Le Manoir. We told Raymond what was going on and he came on board. He became an investor and a Direct of my venture, Pied a Terre. We were his first proteges.
We opened Pied a Terre in December 1991 and we got a Michelin star in the January of 1993 and then 2 stars by 1996! Then our Head Chef Richard decided to retire from cooking, so in ‘96 my first partner left and we brought Tom Aikens in who was with us till 1999.
In 2004 we were closed for a year due to a fire. We had a total wipeout and came back with a new building in tact.
Q: HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THE LONDON DINING SCENE CHANGE OVER THE YEARS, IN TERMS OF SERVICE?
A: I think there’s been a big shift in the last couple of years more so than in the last 10 years to a style of service that is totally professional but more relaxed and easy. And I think that’s due to more bright young people coming into this exciting career bringing that flair and attitude. They know it’s not about servitude, it’s a career. It’s not about calling people Sir and Madam, it’s much more about engaging with people.
It’s also generally becoming much more informal as the older generation are dying off. The ones who’d expect service with a napkin over the arm so to speak.
Q: WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT THIS INDUSTRY?
A: I think it was George Bernard Shaw who said if you can make your hobby into a career you’ll be the happiest man alive. I think I’m blessed with having my career choice being my passion as well. Meeting with interesting people, getting to know people every day in our restaurant, enjoying what we do.
The kid in Blackpool would never have met the people I’ve met in any other career or had the opportunities I’ve had in any other career.
Q: WHAT ARE THE BEST TIPS FOR WORKING IN A BUSY, MICHELIN STARRED VENUE?
A: Generally in hospitality, the staff need to be focussed on the customers and leave baggage at the door. If you’re having a bad day or week you need to put it aside and just focus on the customers
You need to want to know what you’re doing. Any professional in any career needs to know his product, the waiter knowing his menu, the wine waiter knowing his wines.
And just like any other professional, if you want to be good at it it’s not going to be easy, you are going to have to work hard and study but it will reward ultimately.
Q: WHAT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO YOU IN A CANDIDATE? TRAINING OR PASSION?
A: Passion. We can train pretty much anybody but you can’t give them the passion.
Q: WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN THE BEST STAFF?
A: I always say to look for people who are brighter than yourself. There’s a real mid-management flaw in some cultures. Mid-managers are scared of bringing in the brightest people. Don’t be. Employ people who will challenge and push you as it’s the only way we all get better
Q: WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 RECRUITMENT/INTERVIEW TIPS FOR SOMEONE LOOKING TO WORK IN A TOP LONDON VENUE?
1. Be prepared: know who your’e coming to
2. Ask questions: have at least 3 questions prepared
3. Be engaged and enthusiastic
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE DISH AT PIED A TERRE?
A: We’ve currently got a dish on from 1993 which is a Seared Foie Gras with Sauterne Consomme. A classic Richard Neat dish from the early days!
Q: WHAT TREND ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT AT THE MOMENT?
A: Sustainability. It’s not often the sexy trend but it is something we’re all going to have to get on board with. We are currently recycling 100% of our waste food and it feels good!
Q: 2 FAVOURITE RESTAURANTS IN LONDON?
1. Club Gascon – anything with Foies Gras
2. Fairuz lebanese on Blandford Street
Q: WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
A: We have lots of plans! Breaking news coming shortly in fact. We’ve been here for 26 years and we’re going to make sure the next 26 are as good as last as the last.