Tony Pineda is our Head Chef. He joined Le Café du Marché twenty years ago taking the helm in the kitchen as Head Chef in summer 2017. We chatted to Tony to find out more about his approach to French provincial cuisine that Le Café du Marché is renowned for.
You’ve been at Café du Marché for 20 years, tell us about your time here?
I came to work here as a Chef de Partie back in 1998. It was already renowned for serving classical French cuisine created by Head Chef Simon Cottard. As a young chef it was a privilege to work with such passionate and knowledgeable people as Charlie and Simon and learn the art and techniques of French food.
What did you do before you came here?
I’d worked as a junior chef in a wide range of kitchens in London and Sussex from The Landmark Hotel to The Avenue, a fine dining restaurant in St James’. I’d grown accustomed to the stress of working long days in big kitchens and it was a relief to move to a smaller team and be part of a family business.
What’s special about the food you and your team serve at Le Café du Marché?
The restaurant has always been known for serving provincial French cuisine – specifically the classic dishes of the South West of France. We specialise in good, honest, homey french food like confit of duck, duck rillettes, pate and comforting cassoulet. Fine dining has its place, but we want our customers to be able to enjoy the familiar classics all served with a good fresh green salad and frites.
Have you introduced any changes to the menu since you became Head Chef?
We’ve not made any significant changes – our customers return again and again because they are looking for the familiar classic French dishes that we’re renowned for. But I have introduced a few elements of Mediterranean food and we’re carefully listening to our customers to know that they enjoy them.
Your menu changes with the seasons, tell us why?
It’s really important to cook with the seasons and use ingredients when they are at their best so our menu changes every six weeks to feature the best seasonal ingredients, from asparagus and strawberries in spring and early summer to pheasant and partridge and wild mushrooms in the autumn and winter.
We spend a lot of time planning the menus looking for variety and balance in everything we serve. We also have daily specials making the most of what is good that day from the market.
Do you travel in France for inspiration for new recipes and ingredients?
Yes, we have family holidays in France with my wife and two boys. We’ve explored the markets and restaurants of the Dordogne, Montpellier and Bordeaux.
Do you cook at home with your children?
I have two boys aged 10 and 11 and I’ve always tried to encourage them to explore different foods and flavours and they’re quite adventurous. They both love mussels! They love cooking too especially cakes and pastries. We love eating out too and enjoy the Indian and Chinese restaurants near our home.
What would be your desert island dish or your last meal?
Rib-eye steak, cooked medium-rare, and served with French mustard and chips.
What’s your kitchen super-power?
I’m speedy with a knife! I can fillet a fish or cut smoked salmon really fast!
Silence in the kitchen or music to keep you energised?
We always have the radio on in the kitchen and I love any pop music from Iggy Pop to Oasis.