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Head Chef

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Meet Our Team: Keith Davis – Pastry Chef

Keith Davis is our Pastry Chef which means he has the very important task of creating delicious desserts for the restaurant as well as designing and making desserts and cakes for private events and weddings.

You’ve been at Le Café du Marché for nearly 30 years, tell us about your time here?
I first came to work here in 1989 just three years after the restaurant opened. Unbelievably it will be 30 years ago next year! I love working for a proper family business like Café du Marché. We’re a close team and there’s a real camaraderie amongst everyone who works here.

How did you get into being a chef?
I loved cooking as a child and was always making brandy snaps and shortbread for my Mum. When I left school, my Dad suggested I become a chef and I was lucky enough to go straight into an apprenticeship at The Waldorf in 1971 and I’ve never looked back. I’ve been really lucky to be able to follow my vocation to be a chef. I would never have enjoyed a career stuck in an office!

Where did you work before you came here?
I first worked with the Charlie Graham-Wood (the founder of Le Café du Marché) at the Restaurant Ship Hispaniola. After a stint at The Savoy, I found myself back at the Hispaniola until one day I got a call from Charlie asking me to come and work for him at Le Café du Marché.

What is special about the desserts you and your team serve at Le Café du Marché?
Le Café du Marché is known for serving classical French cuisine so you will find traditional French deserts on our menu, there’s always a seasonal fruit tart and usually a parfait, fondant or brülée.
We also make bespoke cakes and desserts for weddings and birthday celebrations. I’m particularly proud of making the traditional French wedding cake, Croque en Bouche, a delicate pyramid of profiteroles filled with créme pâtisserie held together by delicate sugar work.

What’s your favourite thing about being a pastry chef?
I love using my flair and creativity to develop new recipes – for example, I love experimenting with macaroons and trying different flavours, colours and cooking at different temperatures to result in real variety. I really like working with all the different kinds of pastry and the variety that offers whether it’s making strudels or a tart. I also love sugar work and how creative you can be with blown or pulled sugar to make decorations like flowers and ribbons.

Have customers’ tastes for deserts changed in the time you’ve worked here?
Yes, definitely. Of course, most importantly deserts have got to look and taste good! Over the years we have changed how we serve puddings now plating them up individually. People have become more health conscious too and we tend to use less double cream than we did now often replacing or mixing it with créme fraîche or yoghurt.

Do you cook at home?
Funnily enough, I rarely make desserts at home but often cook savoury dishes for my wife. Perhaps because I like working with pastry, one of my favourite things to make for a special occasion is Beef Wellington.

What do you do when you’re not in the kitchen?
I love fishing. I love being outdoors and the peace and quiet after the hustle and bustle of being in the kitchen. I also love getting outside on my bike.

Meet Our Team: Tony Pineda, Head Chef

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.