Andrea Cofini On Bringing Back L’Atelier Robuchon

By Ellie Smith

9 months ago

'As a chef, I tend to live well with pressure'

Joel Robuchon was one of the world’s most renowned chefs, acquiring a whopping 32 Michelin stars over the course of his glittering career. Shortly after he sadly passed away in 2018, his famed Mayfair restaurant closed its doors – but this September, it’s relaunching as L’Atelier Robuchon. At the helm is Italian-born Andrea Cofini, who is well-versed in the Robuchon style, having joined the restaurant group in 2014. Ahead of the launch, we chat to Andrea about reinventing a culinary stalwart. 

Andrea Cofini On Bringing Back L’Atelier Robuchon

How does it feel to be at the helm of the new L’Atelier Robuchon? Are you feeling the pressure?

It is incredible. I am happy, and excited to see the concept come back to London. L’Atelier is rooted in interaction and fun with the guests while producing the very best food, which I love and brings me joy. The concept is also close to my heart, as this will now be my third Atelier! It’s a challenge, and I am excited. As I am a chef, I tend to live well with pressure and as a team we are all focused to achieve our goals.

What can we expect from the new restaurant?

We are building a stronger and bigger team. Get ready to find a restaurant that not only serves the best dishes, but also has an unforgettable atmosphere. 

What can we expect from the menu?

The menu will have a French twist of course, and as at every Atelier Robuchon, seasonality will be key. We will also focus on sharing dishes, so our guests can experience a wide array of different dishes from the menu. I will be bringing in some of my Asian influence from my Robuchon experience in Shanghai. Of course, we also cannot forget that some of Chef Robuchon’s key dishes will be featured. 

Will the famous mashed potato be returning? What’s the secret to a great mash?

Yes it will be. The secret is the energy and time the chefs put into making the perfect mash with just three ingredients: potatoes, butter and salt. We have been using the same butter that Chef Robuchon used and of course ensure we have the best potatoes in town.

How will you bring Asian influence into the menu?

I spent three years in China so I use ingredients such as kambu, special vinegars, seaweed, schezwan peppers regularly in my cooking style. I am lucky that Mr Robuchon was also heavily influenced by Asian cuisine, his recipe of the miso glazed cod with coconut mouse is outstanding.

What do you think is the secret to a long-standing restaurant?

There is no secret, it is all about focus and working as a team, always. It is never about one chef, but a collaboration working towards the same vision and having respect for one another. Attention to detail is crucial, making sure every single aspect of the meal is perfect so we give every guest the best experience we can.

How would you describe your food ethos?

Seasonality is always key. To respect the ingredients that nature gave us. I always source the best on the market.

When you’re not in the kitchen, where are you?

At home with my wife. We also enjoy taking time to discover what other chefs are doing in their restaurants.

Three ingredients you couldn’t live without?

Olive oil, flour and salt because with these three there is already so much you can do. That was a lesson I learnt during lockdown in Shanghai!

Three favourite places to eat in London?

I just moved here so I am looking forward to discovering the town. I must say though during my first week in London, while we started prepping the project for L’Atelier, I discovered a small Lebanese restaurant with great falafel on Clarges Street.

Favourite seasonal ingredient you’re cooking with at the moment and how are you using it?

Tomatoes at the moment. I am Italian and a good tomato based pasta is the key to my heart or a delicious tomato salad with some cherry vinegar, peach and chive! Or even fried with semolina – there is so much you can do. For the coming months of September and October, I am looking forward to cooking with porcini mushrooms, they are delicious fried, complementing most dishes.

Most memorable meal of all time?

In China, on my first week, I was invited out to a Michelin starred restaurant that had Beijing (peking) duck with caviar. It was a small restaurant and I was blown away.

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