A CHEF who has worked in a Michelin-starred restaurant and cooked for the Queen has relocated to North Somerset to help open a world-class patisserie at a pub in Weston In Gordano (November, 2016).
Marco Pilloni, who hails originally from Sardinia, has joined with the owners of The White Hart, which is famous for being innovative and modern in its approach, to open Patisserie Venga.
The 37-year-old, who previously worked at the Michelin-starred Club Gascon in London, as Head Pastry Chef, said: “I love patisserie because it’s so precise. Everything is measured to the milligram, leaving nothing to chance. Pastry is a science. Every single ingredient depends on various chemical reactions too. It’s exciting!
“I like doing sugar and chocolate work, with macaroons and mousse cakes a favourite of mine. I love making bread and yeasty doughs such as brioches and doughnuts too. Visitors to our patisserie, which officially opened today (November 11), will be able to see lots of tasty and colourful creations, the union of traditional and contemporary pastry, lovely artisan breads, and lots and lots of chocolate.
“People can buy items to take home, order special occasion cakes or just come for a relaxing coffee or tea and eat their chosen patisserie in the comfy chairs in the bar area of the restaurant at The White Hart.”
Marco’s first role in the world of patisserie was at the Royal Opera House (ROH) in London, where he trained with Claire Clark, former Head Pastry Chef at the French Laundry, a three star Michelin restaurant in California, and judge of the Great British Bake Off’s Crème de la Crème television series for professionals.
The father-of-one, who now lives in Portishead, added: “With Claire at the ROH, we developed amazing dishes and outstanding afternoon teas. During my time there, I also had the pleasure of cooking an apple and blackberry crumble for her Majesty The Queen!”
Restored outbuildings attached to The White Hart, which were once part of a blacksmith’s forge, have been used to create the patisserie.
Mike Yeatman, who owns and runs the 21st century pub along with his wife Chris, said: “A patisserie at a pub! It’s pretty quirky and that’s what we do here, plus we know it’s just the sort of thing people in the area will love. There is something rather fantastic about luxury where it’s unexpected. Once the unexpected becomes familiar, it becomes a place to regularly visit for that special present or treat.
“It is hard to meet anyone who doesn’t enthuse about great cake and pastry treats! Baking is the new rock’n’roll and our patisserie will take that to another level. We know we’re going to have to pull people in from far and wide, and we deliberately want an ‘inconvenient store’ that people will want to make that extra effort to travel too, because what’s on offer is beautiful, unique and delicious.”
When Mike and Chris decided to renovate The White Hart in 2015 it had been closed for two years.
Chris explained: “It was once a good village local. Sadly, for 10 years it suffered neglect. Gradually its custom ebbed away. In January 2013, it closed its doors and was empty for the next two years.
“We took the site on as a wreck in 2015 and have since invested significantly in the building and the business, and have now created a ‘destination’ or ‘go to’ food pub serving the three towns we sit between, as well as holiday travellers seeking refuge from M5 motorway queues. We are also ardent supporters of the local community and hopefully have helped rekindle some of that fondness people had for the pub.”
Chris and Mike, who also own and run the tapas bar and restaurant Venga in Portishead, and their 30-strong team wanted to create a unique experience for visitors and diners and have developed a unique, outside garden area that includes a large central tepee with fire pit, a rum shack and an open-air pizzeria kitchen.
Mike said: “When we launched we knew we would have to be both better and different from other pubs. We sit in a triangle of three good ‘drinking’ pubs so we knew simply trying to vie for their custom would not be enough to succeed.
“We have also set out to be the venue of choice for customers looking for a treat and to socialise with their friends and family. We knew we would achieve this through great ambience, service and food, and the patisserie is an extension of all this. Our sites are about offering great food and this venture is a natural extension of that philosophy.
“We know there is an appetite in the area for good food and experiences too. In Portishead, there is a new quality modern butcher, The Butcher’s Block, which is thriving in its first year and across in Clevedon the garage shop of Budgens is being reopened as an M&S Food.
“There was a demand for a 21st century pub in the area and we’ve proved this, now we’re branching out with an artisan bakery and the evidence suggests this will be a winner too. But realistically without Marco and his skills, this wouldn’t happen.”
While at Club Gascon, Marco ensured high standards were maintained, developed new dishes and worked alongside Michelin-starred chef Pascal Aussignac.
Marco added: “Chef Pascal has retained his star since 2002 and is a truly living inspiration for me. His passion and energy for the trade will remain with me forever and it’s this, along with my experience and skills, that I will be bringing to Patisserie Venga at The White Hart.”
For further details, please call The White Hart, which is on Clevedon Road in Weston In Gordano, on 01275 818702 or visit www.whitehartwig.com. Patisserie Venga is open Wednesday to Saturday 9.30am to 6pm and Sunday 9.30am to 3pm.