Duo Deli Restaurant in Perth
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The Chefs at Large!

Hello everyone

So just as we were settling down from the high of our review we received a very nice letter from the Michelin Guide people!  Twenty one years after we opened the doors to our first family owned restaurant in Edinburgh we have achieved a listing in the Michelin Guide.  Yes, you read it right – this is a first for us!  The guide, as I’m sure you know, hales from early 20th century France so Herve’s elation was especially heartfelt.

MIchelin Guide 2014

The original French Guide – we’re not quite as “veteran” as this!

Now, just a quick aside. The Michelin Guide entry is not to be confused with gaining a Michelin Star – as one of our customers thought after my facebook post!  As much as I like the occasional treat in a Michelin Starred restaurant this isn’t something we’re striving for here at Pig Halle! We want to see you every week, not every year!

The Michelin Guide covers everything from fresh, seasonal, pub food to the highly-praised michelin stars like local boy, Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles. The key to achieving an entry is quality, value for money and an overall experience that leaves you feeling as though you’ve just enjoyed some really, really great food.  Well, that’s my take on it at least!

And its all tied in rather nicely; after your amazing feedback on the the last blog I thought I’d talk about the people who have made this whole journey possible for us.  When you sit as a restaurateur to look at this life you have built it is awash with people who have worked alongside you, offered help, done a favour (small and outrageously big!) or given some sound advice.   We could never have achieved our recent accolades working on our own and its is important every now and then to sit and take stock of the friends and colleagues who have made our life possible.

Where to begin though?  Well, here and now seems like as good a place as any don’t you think?! It will also give me time to dig out all photographs and cast my memory back for some old stories.

I have had the pleasure of working with some amazing teams over the years. From big, bold front of house doyennes (you know who you are!) to quiet, efficient serious chefs; my career and life has been filled with many different personalities.  And you know,  in this crazy industry of ours you need that. You need every breed of person to come together so that you might create a team that flows and gels. I know for a fact that a restaurant full of a team of Paulas would be a disaster!  We all have our strengths and we all have our flaws – the trick I have learned is taking people exactly as you find them.   And then as a manager, you lead by example and show how you like things done. There is room for everyone and this is as true of our team right now as it was 25 years ago in Cafe St Honor when I chatted up the new (quiet!) French kitchen boy!

Lets kick off with the chefs!

Head Chef, Pig Halle Restaurant, Perth

Nedka, keeps the team in line with a smile!

Our head chef in Pig Halle is the wonderful Nedka. Regulars will remember Nedka from Briezh; she joined us in 2007 as a sous chef and last year we appointed her to Head Chef of Pig Halle. Our girl trained for four years at catering college in her homeland of Bulgaria before arriving in England to work in a nursing home. Her sister-in-law was up here in Scotland and after everyone she spoke to told her how wonderful this little country was, she decided to move North. She was three years in Ciao Roma before joining us in Breizh and her steady, calm influence was a perfect fit with laid back Jack – our head chef at the time.  She has always been well liked by the team, easy to get on with and a great example to younger team members.  Smiling all the time, seldom cross – she’s the exact opposite of the crazy Hell’s Kitchen chefs you see showcased on these ridiculous TV shows.

Dennis - Our Amazing Pizzaiolo!

Dennis – Our Amazing Pizzaiolo!

Dennis is our newest chef – he’s the handsome Italian you’re now seeing throwing pizzas behind the counter in Duo! This is a man with a bizarre story to tell! He has joined us following 6 years in Japan where he worked as a baker, setting up equipment and training staff.  The chain he worked for was called AEON, a pizza and bread outlet for food court areas in these large shopping malls.  A qualified accountant (I kid you not!) Dennis learned his baking trade in his father’s authentic pizza restaurant in Venice.

 

After 25 years living and breathing all things bread and pizzas he knew this was where his heart lay and on completing his studies and securing his qualifications he abandoned his plans to count money and went for a life at the oven door.  Don’t you just love that?  He moved here to Perth 2 months ago to start with us at Duo and is being joined just shortly by his wife and two children.  They are 8 and 6 and have grown up speaking Italian, English and Japanese. My position as the company linguist is being threatened by children!

 

 

Eric - no title required!

Eric – no title required!

And last… but by no means least… is our infamous Eric! You know Eric, he has worked with Herve and I for 21 years.  I was pregnant with Max when this rude, grumpy Frenchman joined the team at Jacques Bistro.   His skills were honed in his home town of La Maenne, France, where he worked as a traiteur and butcher. He was more used to making big quantities of terrines and pates for a local, up-market deli; the dishes at Jacques then were traditional French. But he shrugged his shoulders and said why not…. he joined us in 1992 as a general kitchen hand but  was quickly working as a sous chef alongside Herve.

Eric followed us to Perth and joined us in Cafe Tabou – he is the only person who has worked with us in all of our businesses and it is fair to say that this beer-swilling, cigarette-smoking, inappropriate, woman-loving Frenchman is part of the magic that has carried us so well. You will see Eric, sitting in Greyfriars (all of our guys enjoy a pint with Pauline!) across the road, now one of the locals, chatting up the new barmaids and loving every minute of his life as a chef in Perth.  He is our friend, he has earned the respect of Herve and myself and I cannot imagine working in a restaurant that does not chime with his bad-tempered French and that extremely wicked glint in his eye!

So there you have the chefs; the men and the woman who have created the menus and produced the food that has gained us our first listing in the elusive Michelin Guide.   They have embraced the local, seasonal produce that Perth has to offer and they have woven it into classic French dishes and mixed it with some of the best Mediterranean products available to us.  The results are as amazing as this wonderfully quirky, international team of cooks and I am proud to stand each and every day as their mouthpiece on the floor, selling their wares to you, our customers and glowing in the light of the praise for their food.

And Herve… well, he’s happy to escape every now and then to Greyfriars and enjoy a pint and a laugh with Eric; perhaps the real truth for the longevity of our friendship and working life together is that it lets them both believe they’re still twenty-something boys with a Michelin guide entry just a far off dream.

See you all very soon,

Paula x

 

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