David Moore is no stranger to success. This restaurateur has been awarded not one but three Michelin stars for his exclusive London eateries, Pied à Terre and L’Autre Pied.
But his career started off a long way from London. As a teenager in Blackpool he found him himself catering for the elderly. ‘I thought there had to be more to the restaurant business than that,’ he says. So he enrolled on a HND course in catering at Blackpool College and quickly found himself working at the famous Box Tree restaurant in Ilkley, Yorkshire.
There Moore became friendly with the head chef. ‘He told me that if I was serious about the restaurant business then I should get myself a job at Le Manoir.’ And that’s exactly what he did. ‘I managed to get myself a job at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons,’ he recalls. ‘Back in 1985 it really was the leading light in the catering world.’ Six years later, with fantastic front-of-house experience behind him, it was time for Moore to set out on a restaurant of his own. Together with Richard Neat, a chef at Le Manoir, Moore opened Pied à Terre in Charlotte Street, London, in 1991.
‘We were immediately successful,’ Moore says proudly. ‘In 1996, we achieved two Michelin stars.’ But in 2004, a devastating fire shut down the restaurant until October 2005. But when it re-opened customers were impressed by the refurbishment, which saw the dining room extended.
Building on his achievements at Pied à Terre, Moores went on to open his second London restaurant, L’Autre Pied, with current business partner Shane Osborn, in 2007. This new venue in the capital quickly picked up a host of awards, including Best New Restaurant at the Time Out London Eating and Drinking Awards in 2008. But its highest accolade to date is the Michelin star it achieved in its opening year.
February 2009 saw the opening of Van Zeller restaurant in Harrogate, Yorkshire, whose chef, Tom Van Zeller, is backed by Moore. ‘It’s doing brilliantly,’ says Moore. ‘It’s very popular and we’re hoping it will achieve a Michelin star one day as well.’
David Moore’s success can be put down to two qualities. The first is his motivation to make sure that he and his team achieve the best they can every day. ‘We want to give the best possible service and the best possible food that we can. Coming to work is a joy. It’s a passion: a vocation. And that’s the same across all three restaurants.’
The second secret of his success may sound simple, but Moore says it is crucial. And that secret is his timekeeping. ‘I can’t think of another industry where timekeeping is anywhere near as important as it is to the restaurant business,’ he says. ‘From the moment customers arrive in your restaurant, everything has to conform to a time frame. You have to be watching the clock constantly to make sure that everything runs smoothly.’
Moore has even introduced schedules for his front-of-house staff that insist on customers having their drinks order taken and their being presented with the menu within a strict time-frame —— get this right and the customer is relaxed, on your side and has faith that the meal will go well, he says. Timekeeping in a restaurant is all-important. He adds: ‘It’s easier for a poor restaurant to be successful if it has good timing than a good restaurant that suffers bad timing.’
David Moore will feature as a restaurant inspector in the new series of Raymond Blanc’s The Restaurant, which starts on BBC2 on Thursday 29 October.
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated October 24, 2009