Pierre Koffmann rose to fame at La Tante Claire in London, where he trained a generation of well-known chefs – but the roots of his love for cooking lie in rural Gascony. In this memoir, he shares memories of his grandparents’ farm in southwest France, along with recipes for the gutsy regional dishes that formed the basis of his acclaimed cuisine.
"Pierre Koffmann is one of the great teachers of cuisine. His work is a real lesson in dedication and care for all aspiring young chefs like myself." - René Redzepi
"Pierre is one of the world's great, instinctive chefs." - Heston Blumenthal
Pierre Koffmann's Memories of Gascony is the story of how one of the most influential chefs of our time first learned to love food. With recipes and reminiscences from his grandparents' home in rural Gascony, this is an intimate account of school holidays spent on the farm helping his grandfather to harvest and hunt, and learning to treasure seasonality, simplicity and the best ingredients at his grandmother's side.
The finest of Gascony produce is here, with a focus on simplicity. The recipes stand the test of time and speak to the food tastes and trends of today. While you read the charming stories of everyday life on the farm, you'll devour the cuisine as you go along - dandelion salad with bacon and poached egg, grilled chicken with shallots and vinaigrette, and greengages in armagnac in Spring; chicken liver pate with capers, Bayonne ham tart with garlic, oeufs a la neige in Summer; roast hare with mustard and beetroot, salt cod cassoulet and quince jelly in Autumn; and fried eggs with foie gras, potato and bacon pie and tarte aux pruneaux in Winter.
This is a book to learn, love and live from.
Pierre Koffman was trained as a chef, and he ran a brilliant restaurant in London, La Tante Claire, this is his hymn of praise to French country cooking. It is extremely rare for a starred chef to understand anything much about home-cooks and home-cooking. But here he blesses us with recipes from his grandparents’ farm, literally la cuisine de grand-mère - dishes that we can make in our own kitchens, authentic and grounded. It is also a memoir and a record of a vanishing way of life, the way of the peasant farmers of South West France, one that had its own rhythm, relied on fresh seasonal produce from the farm, game, wild mushrooms, snails and on making the most of everything.
Patissier and chocolatier
As a young chef, I worked for Pierre Koffmann in the kitchen of La Tante Claire. He is one of the most influential chefs of our time and was fundamental in my training. This book takes you on his life’s journey through cooking, from childhood nostalgia growing up in Gascony, though to three star Michelin dishes iconic to him. It really epitomises his philosophy.
There were several French chefs popular in Britain when I lived there: Raymond Blanc, the Roux Brothers, Nico. And they all wrote good books. But there is something magical in Koffman's memoire, his first. The dishes have soul. Grandmothers and uncles and long-lost friends seem to radiate from them. It is like a poem.
Pierre is a treasure in the hospitality world, passionate about food to the core and responsible for teaching so many of the great cooks around the UK. This book relives some of the life and times of the man while we can enjoy some great culinary classics of the region at the same time.
Writer, film maker
After my first dinner at Tante Claire in Royal Hospital Road I discovered a level of cooking that I hadn't known existed, but with Pierre, it was rooted in the countryside of his childhood, the terroir, the seasons, all the things I believe in.
Writer, Blogger & Art Dealer
Mitchell Beazley released a beautifully produced new edition of the old classic in 2012. His Gratin d'Haricots Verts is to die for.
Author and chef
A real favourite of a an early life through food. My copy is well thumbed and smeared with sauce
Beef at Flat Iron
How to use duck fat properly.
More duck fat. Yum!