Koffmann Named Top Chef, Dinner by Blumenthal Gets Prize

Pierre Koffmann and Claire Harrison
Pierre Koffmann on the set of the TV show "Saturday Kitchen" with his partner Claire Harrison. Koffmann has been named AA Chefs' Chef of the Year. Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg

Pierre Koffmann, the French culinary master who held three Michelin stars at La Tante Claire in London, was last night named AA Chefs’ Chef of the Year.

Koffmann, who came out of retirement in 2010 to open Koffmann’s at the Berkeley Hotel, was chosen by fellow chefs whose restaurants hold rosettes in the AA Restaurant Guide.

“This is a great honor,” Koffmann said in an interview before the awards at a dinner at the London Hilton, Park Lane.

Among awards for London restaurants: Hibiscus was promoted to the maximum five rosettes; Pollen Street Social and Seven Park Place went to four rosettes; Rib Room, Alyn Williams, Thirty Six and CUT won three. L’Etranger took the AA Wine Award.

Restaurant of the Year winners were: Church Green British Grill, Lymm (England); Rogano, Glasgow (Scotland); Sosban, Llanelli (Wales). Dinner by Heston Blumenthal was top in London.

There were two awards of new five red stars, the top honor for hotels: 45 Park Lane and Dukes.

Koffmann, 64, who was born in Tarbes, France, visited the U.K. in 1970 for a rugby match and found work with brothers Michel and Albert Roux at Le Gavroche. He became head chef at the Waterside Inn and opened La Tante Claire in 1977. His proteges include Gordon Ramsay and Jason Atherton.

(This month, he republished his 1990 memoirs, “Memories of Gascony.” I wrote the foreword for the new edition.)

Previous winners of the chef’s prize include Chris and Jeff Galvin (2011), Martin Wishart (2010), Marcus Wareing (2009), Philip Howard (2008) and Michael Caines (2007).

The lifetime achievement award went to the restaurateur Antonio Carluccio.

(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. He is U.K. and Ireland chairman of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Opinions expressed are his own.)

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