After completing his studies in France, Chef David continued to refine his skills in senior kitchen positions, including at the two Michelin-star Le Clos de la Violette. In 2003, Chef Duverger relocated to London and fine dining restaurant L’Etranger in Kensington, before moving to the one Michelin-star Putney Bridge Restaurant. After launching the renowned Papillon Brasserie in Chelsea, Chef David joined Pierre Koffman at his pop-up restaurant The Roof, located at the top of the famous Selfridges department store. He then worked as head chef at La Gazette restaurant in Battersea and then Chiswick based brasserie and delicatessen Moot.
Chef Duverger joined Le Cordon Bleu’s team of Cuisine Teaching Chefs in 2013.
What are you most passionate about in the food world?
I’m most passionate about keeping in touch with all my past chefs. I keep in touch with all my sous-chefs, I think I must have one in every country around the world now. It’s fantastic to watch them develop and see what new things they are achieving now.
What is your earliest food memory?
It would have to be making a tarte tatin. My dad used to make a large one and I used to make a small one as I was only young. I had all the equipment you’d need but just in miniature size. I also always remember my father bringing home viennoiseries and the smell of the fresh brioche and croissant.
What tip would you give a chef that would want to follow a similar career path as you?
Transform your stress into adrenaline; you have to be able to channel your fear and nerves in the correct way.
If you don’t stay at the top of your game, people forget you.
What do you love the most about the culinary scene here in London?
I like the fact that there is a bigger platform here in the capital to become recognised. In France there are so many hoops you have to jump through and doors you have to open before you stand a chance of being seen or heard.
How did you train your palate to be able to distinguish and match flavours?
It’s quite a hard task, and it took a long time. The first hurdle is to discover all the flavours. Get hold of them, try and test them so you can get used to their flavours. I think you have to understand that when you try a new product for the first time, you may not like the flavours, but you will begin to understand that you can make new and exciting creations if you can appreciate which flavours work well together.
What’s the biggest challenge when opening a new restaurant?
Opening on time is huge! The day before I opened my restaurant I had my brothers come and help fit all the tables in the dining area. But above all that, I think I was most worried about the critics. The top ones from Evening Standard and Metro always come in on the first or second day. They believe that if you’ve opened your doors as a restaurant, then you should be ready to be at your best, they don’t allow much room for staff training. I didn't sleep the night before - I stayed up most of the night and got the first Metro of the day to read the review! If you don’t stay at the top of your game people forget you. I think if anyone reading this is looking to open their own restaurant they should remember that it’s a huge investment and you have to get it right. You should train your staff correctly, but before you even consider opening your own you should work for as many different people as you can and learn from their mistakes. If I had my time again I would do things differently of course, but the best advice is to get to know your customers, and manage your stock carefully to keep the basics in stock, even when they may not be in season.
What is the longest time you’ve ever spent at home preparing and cooking a meal?
You can spend two days. By the time you have been to market and have been inspired by all the different ingredients and then you have prepared all the food you could easily take up that time. It’s a love for the produce, for example I wouldn’t eat asparagus after the summer months or eat tomatoes in winter. For me food is like a religion.