David Moore Pied a Terre
Pied a Terre Founder David Moore (right) believes: "We have a responsibility to help fight climate change and protect the planet we all call home." Etienne Gilfillan/Pied a Terre

Pied a Terre is situated in Central London, just seconds away from Goodge Street and Tottenham Court Road.

Pied a Terre's sustainable restaurant values are made clear on its website, which states: "As we create, cook and serve our dishes, we know we have a responsibility to help fight climate change and protect the planet we all call home."

David Moore, the Owner of Pied a Terre, spoke to International Business Times UK about what it takes to survive as a Michelin-starred restaurant in London that prioritises inclusivity, sustainability and plant-based dishes.

Moore's journey to becoming a restaurateur and Owner of the award-winning establishment started with his desire to become a chef.

Although "the twelve-year-old me wanted to be a chef, I spent some time working and training as a part-time chef and I kind of just decided it wasn't for me, I didn't like it. I've always been front of house, I'm a strange beast," Moore told me.

"I'm not averse to work. I just think I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The food wasn't interesting," the Restauranteur added, noting that when he was first introduced to the kitchen, "I was cooking for geriatrics um on Wallace Arnold coach trips from Glasgow where the chefs cooked for 122 coaches a week and It was just slop".

After turning his back on cooking, Moore went on to do "a management course HND" where he was "recruited to be a waiter in a local hotel".

With a new interest in management and front-of-house employment, Moore branched out and "worked as a jobbing waiter in about six or seven hotels part-time",

According to Moore, as part of a 26-week work placement, "I ended up working at a place called the Box Tree restaurant – considered one of the best restaurants around in the 70s."

"It was actually considered the best restaurant in the UK, I think," he added.

After completing the work placement, the restaurateur revealed: "Before I left the Box Tree, the chef told me that I should get a job working for Raymond Blanc at Le Mainour Hotel. When I was back at college, I answered an advert in The Caterer for an Assistant Head Waiter and I ended up getting a job straight out of college."

In regard to climbing the management ladder, at first, the Pied a Terre Founder told me that by the end of his first year at Le Mainour, "I became Assistant Restaurant Manager when I was just 23".

Moore went on to work at Blanc's Le Mainour for six years, telling me that "the French style and the luxury style imprinted on me" and inspired him to create his own establishment.

At just 26 years old, Moore left Le Mainour Hotel to open Pied a Terre.

David Moore and Raymond Blanc
David Moore appeared on the BBC show 'The Restaurants' alongside his former boss, Raymond Blanc. Photo: BBC

After leaving Blanc behind at the beginning of November 1991, in the middle of December, Moore opened Pied a Terre alongside Richard Neat, the restaurant's first head chef.

"The first possible year to get a Michelin star, we got it", Moore explained.

"We totally – totally expected it. We were arrogant fucks. We said in our Michelin statement before we opened to investors that we would get 2 Michelin stars within three years, we failed we did it in four years," he continued.

Moore first met Neat at Le Mainour and the pair reconnected while Neat was "working as a Head Chef under Marco Pierre White and alongside this young sou chef called Gordon Ramsay".

According to the Pied a Terre Founder, the restaurant earned its first Michelin because, "Richard Neat, was a really good cook, probably like a genius cook".

Pied a Terre also earned its Michelin because it was "totally different and new", Moore told me, recognising that "there weren't many restaurants in London" at the time.

Explaining how he managed to focus on becoming a Michelin-star restaurant that focuses on veganism and vegetarian options, Moore told me: "Back then, the vegetarian menu was only given out if the customer asked for it. The landscape was also very different, and the landscape was very French in London in the 90s."

"If I'd have said 'vegan and vegetarian menu' to Richard Neat, he would have stabbed me in the eye. So, at the start, we opened with sweetbreads, pigs trotters, brazed pigs heads, everything that is weird and wonderful," he added

While Pied a Terre was not home to a vegetarian menu in the 1990s, Moore explained: "When we opened, we were still open and known as the omnivore restaurant in London, but I wanted to be even more inclusive and I wanted to make sure that there was a vegetarian menu available."

The Michelin restaurant Owner continued with: "Richard Neat didn't focus on vegetarian dishes. None of the chefs did. But when pushed, they always created something really interesting... We have been open in London for 32 years, but if we go back and I said to one of the chefs 'I've got a vegetarian on table 10, what do I do?', he would have said: 'Give them the fucking seabass without the seabass!'"

Pied a Terre vegan
Pied a Terre provides its customers with 10-course plant-based tasting menus and vegan masterclasses. Enjo Media/Pied a Terre

"When Shane Osborn took over as Head Chef, that was when I got some more power over the menu. I said I wanted a printed vegetarian menu every night and I told them that it can be the same for the whole week or month, I didn't care, but I just didn't want to run to the kitchen to ask you what we were going to do for the vegetarian on table 10," Moore added.

"Running a Michelin restaurant is like working a Formula One team. It's all about efficiency, like how quick can you do a tyre change," the Restauranteur explained, telling me how being unprepared for certain dietary requirements in the middle of the service, is extremely "disruptive".

In 2017, Pied a Terre launched its first vegan menu.

Although Moore does not eat an entirely vegetarian diet himself, the Pied a Terre Founder told me that the restaurant does encourage people to eat a sustainable and plant-based diet.

Pied a Terre would never "push one menu or another on people", Moore told me, but considering the vegan and vegetarian dishes are presented in the same regard as the 'regular' menu, "we do encourage customers as the plant-based option is available and the whole offering lets people choose".

As an establishment that works towards a sustainable future and as part of its 'Events and Experience' options, Pied a Terre provides its customers with 10-course plant-based tasting menus and vegan masterclasses.

While being proud to present sustainable meal options and organic ingredients, Moore told me that Pied a Terre also has a partnership with Gift Trees.

Gift Trees is an environmental project that sets out to plant trees to restore rainforest cover, to improve climate change resilience and to provide jobs to those living in poverty.

According to the restaurateur, the environmental partnership "puts a pound on each bill and hooks in with the restaurant's profit system, which automatically adds on the remaining cost of one tree".

"Every table that we open on the system generates a tree and we have already planted 763 trees. But you know, it's not just the trees. We are conscious about all sustainability and we know that every little detail adds up to something greater than the sum of all the little details," Moore clarified.

The restaurant, which refuses to stock bottled water, also estimates that its running water 'STOP' policy, together with the restaurant's water filtration and reusable bottling system, will save the disposal of over 16,000 bottles per year.

While fighting for a sustainable future, Moore also told me: "In the toilets, our toilet paper is a partnership with 'Who Gives a Crap', which puts profits to helping people who don't have toilets in third world countries. We also have feminine sanitary products whose profits go to supplying sanitary wear for women in period poverty."

"Our hand wash and creams are all made from grape extract from a vineyard in Sussex too, so we really know where all of our stuff comes from," he continued.

"We also visit all our food suppliers. It's not something we need to do, but we like to see where all our stuff comes from. Like, we know the different boats that our fish come from. With our fish, we also know our partner is using lines and they're not dragging nets," the Pied a Terre Owner explained.

Moore also told me: "If we use lamb or pork, we know that it comes from Huntingdon farm in Gloucestershire. The scallops are coming from Scotland at the moment and I've been there with the men in their wetsuits. Beef would also come from Huntingdon farm as well, but we don't use very much beef."

Pied a Terre 1993
At just 26 years old, Moore left Le Mainour Hotel and opened Pied a Terre. Richard Hamilton/Pied a Terre

In regard to restaurants changing their behaviour amid the recent climate crisis, the Pied a Terre Founder went on to reiterate: "We have been working towards sustainability before people talked about the climate crisis. I think if you want to put the best possible product on the plate you have to start off with the best possible product."

To avoid "slipping on quality", Moore explained: "If we can't get what we need then we'll change the menu".

Looking to the future, the Restauranteur told me that the Pied a Terre team are currently fighting to reclaim their second Michelin star, which was won in 1996.

"We had two stars for 12 years, with three different chefs. We haven't actually had two stars since 2012, but I think we are pretty close to it," Moore said.

In 2024, "we are going to carry on doing what we do, but we will just do it better," the Owner of Pied a Terre told me.

In the new year, Pied a Terre also aims to keep its reputation as an inclusive space. To represent all LGBTQIA+ persons, Moore told me that the rainbow PRIDE colours have been incorporated into the Pied a Terre logo.

According to Moore: "The LGBTQ colours are on our menu and our website because we want people to know that this is a safe place for everybody."