Q&A WITH ERIC CHAVOT: MICHELIN-AWARDED AND CONSULTANT CHEF AT CODA RESTAURANT, ROYAL ALBERT HALL

Michelin-awarded chef Eric Chavot joined Coda Restaurant at the Royal Albert Hall in 2017. With over twenty years in the spotlight – Eric Chavot has enjoyed an illustrious culinary career, garnering an abundance of critical praise and Michelin stars.

A protégé of Raymond Blanc and Pierre Koffmann, Chavot began his training in France before moving to London in 1986 to continue his culinary pursuits in a succession of Michelin starred restaurants. Chavot’s career highlights include holding two Michelin stars for 10 years at The Capital Hotel Restaurant, and being honoured for his contribution and commitment to the industry, with the Craft Guild of Chefs ‘Special Award’ in 2014.

The menus at Coda by Eric Chavot are testament to Chavot’s passion for using the very best seasonal produce to create a depth of flavours, culminating in a collection of classic dishes reworked with a modern twist.

We caught up with the man in the spotlight, Eric Chavot, to find out more about his culinary influences and the ingredients he couldn’t live without…

Describe the Coda menu in 5 words:

Five words, moi? Impossible! I will need twice as many….seasonal, full of flavour and variety, healthy, great value for money.

Favourite ingredients to use?

Extra virgin olive oil, can’t be without it. Onions, such a beautiful flavour when gently cooked to a Lyonnaise. Espelette peppers, everyone needs a little spice in life! Beef short ribs, I adore them.

Your favourite Royal Albert Hall memory?

When I first arrived in London I used to walk past this beautiful building and marvel at it every day…it was the first building in London I photographed.

What made you want to be a chef?

I have fantastic memories of growing up with my mother’s incredible French home-cooking. The heart of our family was the kitchen and our daily life revolved around what was happening at the stove ! I loved that feeling of well-being, inclusion, love, nourishment. Becoming a Chef was the obvious career choice for me once the door closed on a future in the Navy after a hunting accident.

Best dish to cook in five minutes?

An omelette, it’s tasty, nutritious, inexpensive and uses just one pan, parfait!

Most memorable/embarrassing cooking moment?

Tough question, there have been many great ‘moments’. I think there are two which tie for the accolade of most memorable, one very good, one extremely bad…

In 2007 I was cooking for a week on a tall ship. She was beautiful, gleaming wood and huge billowing white sails. The trip was from St. Malo to Bilbao down the Bay of Biscay which I didn’t know is infamous for les tempêtes de mer. For days we were battered by raging winds and enormous waves. All equipment and ingredients were flung up-down, left-right. It was like being in a washing machine on the spin cycle. A nightmare!

On the flip-side in 2015 Sabi Sabi invited me to be their first consultant chef at Earth Lodge, an amazingly beautiful game reserve in South Africa. One evening we set up a make-shift kitchen and cooked in the middle of the Game Reserve itself, surrounded by armed rangers and miles of bushveld. It was incredible cooking in such a magical setting. Throughout the evening there were zebra grazing on the grass, monkeys swinging in the trees, and herds of elephants ambling past us. A dream…Thankfully no lions turned up uninvited to the BBQ!

What other restaurants do you love/recommend?

My current favourite is Bistro Vadouvan in Putney. The chef Durga Misra worked for me at The Capital and at Brasserie Chavot. The menu is a fusion of French – Indian so delicious flavours. Its great value for money, a very relaxed atmosphere and ‘Solo’ my working cocker spaniel puppy can join us on the large terrace with views of Putney Bridge and the Thames.

You’re stranded on a desert island – what five ingredients would you want with you and why?

Eggs, butter, cheese, chives and seasoning…perhaps I should be smart and select something I could plant and keep growing, but I’m going to take a huge supply of these 5 ingredients for making omelettes. I’ll only need a minimum of utensils and can cook the omelettes on a rock that’s been heated by the blazing sun!

What is your favourite wine?

Côte Rotie. A small appellation in the Rhone Valley. Vintage 1978 or a 1988-1991.

Person you would most like to cook for?

My mother! She’s never dined in any of the restaurants where I’ve worked. Receiving her approval would be priceless.

Coda by Eric Chavot is available to book for all ticket holders at the Royal Albert Hall. To book tickets to a show, click here.

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