by Orla Pentelow, The Telegraph, October 4, 2017
The Pic family has played an integral part in the history of French cuisine after Pic’s great-grandmother opened the first restaurant, L’Auberge du Pin, over 100 years ago, moving the restaurant to Valence in 1934 where Maison Pic still stands today. This Monday, world-renowned chef - and the only female chef since 1933 to earn three Michelin stars - Anne-Sophie Pic earned her first Michelin star on British soil for her latest venture, La Dame du Pic at the Four Seasons, Trinity Square, which opened earlier this year.
Each star feels very different. I was quite nervous at first, opening a restaurant in London where the restaurant scene is very competitive. I wanted people to like my cuisine - we have to work hard each time to get the result and my team at La Dame de Pic London thoroughly deserve this achievement.
London is such an exciting, diverse city and somewhere that I have wanted to have a restaurant for a long time, however it needed to be the right opportunity. When I first met with Four Seasons Trinity Square I knew it would be a great fit. We share similar values and ideas and I felt confident working with them on this new project.
There are lots of British ingredients that I am still discovering, but certainly Hereford beef which we use in the restaurant, and also cheese and cream - I think that people find this surprising as France is so well-known for its cheese, but there are some wonderful local varieties in England.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life until I was in my mid-twenties. I had been studying business and really felt that I should be with my family at the restaurant. But I didn't take to the kitchen straight away. I worked at front of house for some time, managing the restaurant and overseeing the business. It wasn't until after my father had passed away, and our restaurant had lost its third Michelin star, that I realised I should be in the kitchen, working to regain the stars and bring the restaurant back to where it should be.
After the death of my father and the loss of the third Michelin star, my husband and I found ourselves at the head of the family business. We were still quite young, and it was a very hard time for us. I had to learn quickly, without any training, and take over the kitchen. My husband took over the head of the company. We were inexperienced but full of energy and determination. It was like jumping in a swimming pool without knowing how to swim, but we survived!
Cooking was always in my blood. I had grown up in a family full of chefs and watched my father go to work in the restaurant every day so it was normal to me. I initially felt that I wanted to take a different direction but after studying abroad and spending time away from home, I knew it was my calling.
I owe a lot of my success to my father, for encouraging me to cook and for passing on his instinct for flavours and ingredients. He was both passionate and very humble. He worked his all life to please his clients, to make them happy and was very dedicated to his job.
My father always taught me: never forget where you come from, stay humble and sincere, whatever you achieve.
As told to Orla Pentelow. Ladamedepiclondon.co.uk