My life in travel: Pierre Koffmann
'I'd love to go to Rio Carnival next year. The music and samba are so exciting'
Saturday 30 November 2013
Chef Pierre Koffmann launches the pop-up Krug Kreperie in Covent Garden from 2-9 December, after which it moves to his restaurant at The Berkeley in Knightsbridge, until January (the-berkeley.co.uk).
First holiday memory?
I used to spend all my holidays at my grand-mother's farm in Gascony, south-west France. I have been to more exotic places now, but they were the best holidays, not only when I was young but of my entire life. It was more than 50 years ago, during a more romantic time for farming, so we had to be active and help my grandfather work in the field, or look after the chickens and cows.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
Scotland. I go twice a year to fish or just to do absolutely nothing. The scenery is just amazing and the food is very good too. You get fantastic langoustine, scallops and beef there.
What have you learnt from your travels?
If you go to China, Japan, Australia, anywhere in the world, you realise we are all the same. Also, I've learnt that there are only two types of food: good food and bad food. I went to India and never had a bad meal, even in small restaurants. In Cuba too, you find good food everywhere, especially if you go for simple food, which the locals eat.
Ideal travelling companion?
My partner, Claire. If we go on holidays, we go together. We don't always have similar interests, but that's not the most important thing. It's important to have your own space.
Greatest travel luxury?
Going to countries with a reputation for good food. I can't imagine going to Senegal, for example, which doesn't have a particularly strong identity in that respect. I may be completely wrong, but I'd prefer to travel to where I can have a languid lunch with a bottle of wine.
Cookery books. Not just recipes, but on the history of food and the people behind the dishes. At the moment, I'm reading Coi by an American chef, Daniel Patterson, which has recipes and a lot of stories about his life, family and friends.
Worst travel experience?
I've never had one. We went to Cuba and it was fantastic. Some parts were bad, but then the music and cocktails were brilliant. The worst experience was maybe Barcelona, where we were robbed, but again, it's a fantastic city.
Raffles in Singapore. It's not too big, the service was brilliant and you get a real sense of Singapore. Everything was very luxurious. As soon as you step inside, you enter another world.
I love driving to relax. If you are stressed, you can go for a little drive and it has a calming effect. I love driving in the Scottish countryside in particular, because beautiful scenery is everywhere. The mountains all around are covered in heather and wildlife.
Best meal abroad?
I love going to Spain, because the food is always fantastic. Even in the smallest restaurants, you will never be disappointed. If I had to choose one meal, I'd say Claire's pork belly, with roast vegetables, anchovies and quinoa. It's beautiful!
Paris. You can walk for hours and there's always something to see, a little shop or a monument. I go once a year and love walking around the neighbourhoods, visiting restaurants and crashing out at the hotel.
I would love to go to Brazil for the Rio Carnival next year. It's so exciting – the beautiful music, the samba dancing, the girls – you know you'll go there and it'll be fantastic.
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