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Meet the chef: Dario Avenca, Le Comptoir Robuchon, Mayfair in London

Head chef Dario Avenca brings a wealth of experience to the role, having worked in the industry for over 15 years alongside some of the world’s most renowned chefs, including Alain Ducasse and Yu Sugimoto.

By LLM Reporters  |  May 7, 2022
Meet the Chef_Dario Avenca

Dario Avenca is the head chef at Le Comptoir Robuchon, a fine dining restaurant which embraces legendary Joël Robuchon’s vision for an accessible and intimate restaurant in London’s upmarket Mayfair.

He has 15 years’ experience working with some of the world’s top chefs such as Alain Ducasse and more recently, Yu Sugimoto, at London’s Michelin starred The Square. His seasonal dishes honour Robuchon’s world-class inventive French cuisine, embracing modern and contemporary dining in a vibrant and lively environment.

We sat down with the talented chef to find out a little more.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, including where you are today, professionally, and what got you here?

My name is Dario Avenca. I am Portuguese, originally from the beautiful south plains of Portugal, where the land meets the sea. I was always amazed by the fresh flavours and organic produce that my family grew and still grows today – these fresh, simple products could be combined in so many different ways.

Growing up in such an environment influenced what I do today. I’ve worked in the hospitality industry for over 15 years alongside some of the world’s most renowned chefs, including Alain Ducasse and Yu Sugimoto, and consider myself extremely lucky. Most recently I worked at London’s The Square which gave me many great experiences. Now, I can be found at Le Comptoir Robuchon in Mayfair, building on the tradition of its founder and taking the boundaries of the experience to a new level.

Robuchon_Dario Avenca
Le Comptoir in Mayfair is an evolved new restaurant which is vibrant, buzzy and convivial

What, or who, inspired you to become a chef?

My inspirations as a chef were from the traditional and simple food prepared by my mother and my sisters, and my father who is a great cook. Fresh fish, organic vegetables and field reared meat. Further afield, inspiration came from internationally recognised names like Alain Ducasse, among others, and naturally the legendary Joël Robuchon.

Who has been your biggest influence to get you to where you are today?

Joel Robuchon is my inspiration as a master of preparation and presentation.

What’s your signature dish?

I would have to say our purée de pommes de terre. It’s a Robuchon classic for a reason!

What are the most important considerations when crafting your menu?

The most important considerations when crafting Le Comptoir Robuchon’s menus are high quality, fresh and seasonal products and for the customer to experience new combinations, surprising flavours and exquisite presentation. 

Do your personal preferences influence the menu at all?

Being Portuguese I am highly influenced by Mediterranean cuisine, which I was brought up with, based on the quality and the freshness of products. But yes, fish is my preference due to the delicacy and care required from the preparation to presentation.

Lob.Salad_ Dario Avenca
Head chef Dario Avenca brings a wealth of experience to the role, having worked in the industry for over 15 years alongside some of the world’s most renowned chefs, including Alain Ducasse and Yu Sugimoto

How would you describe your cooking style?

European, French with a Mediterranean twist.

Do you have a favourite time of year or set of ingredients that you look forward to working with?

Summer and autumn ingredients produce the flavours I prefer to work with, the depth in flavours that I thoroughly enjoy. But there are always surprises all year round in this industry!

What is your favourite ingredient to create with?

I could name a few that chefs can’t live without, such as olive oil, lemon and black pepper. But, for me, it would be turbot due to its delicacy and versatility. 

What would you be doing if you weren’t a chef?

If I was not a chef, I would be a farmer or fisherman, where I could pursue my passion for food and quality ingredients.

What is your favourite dish to cook at home? 

My favourite dish to cook at home is salted codfish, the traditional dish of Portugal.

When are you happiest? 

I am happiest when I see the delight of our customers trying my creations and their pure joy and pleasure.

What is your favourite piece of kitchen equipment?

My knives are my preferred kitchen equipment. They are jewels on their own.

Caviar Seabream_Dario Avenca
Le Comptoir Robuchon is a tribute to Joel Robuchon’s legacy, simplicity, consistency and attention to detail

When you’re not in the kitchen where can you be found?

When I am not in the kitchen, I can be found at home trying new recipes, or occasionally in any friends’ restaurant.

What’s your favourite takeaway or comfort food?

My favourite comfort food is sushi. As I mentioned, fish is very important to me.

Where is your favourite place to dine?

My favourite place to dine, naturally, is Le Comptoir Robuchon.

What do you think is the most over-hyped food trend?

In my personal opinion, the most overhyped food trend is processed meat replacement options.

What do your future plans entail?

To keep on working at Le Comptoir Robuchon, and continue to surprise our patrons.

What differences do you find working with local produce as opposed to non-local produce in terms of what you can create and flavour? 

As I mentioned, local, fresh products are the key to the finest cuisine. Le Comptoir Robuchon at its best!

LE COMPTOIR_ Dario Avenca
The 20 seat marble counter is a prominent feature of this chic, classically stylish restaurant beneath a smart apartment block

How do you go about menu planning? What’s the process from picking the ingredients to getting them fresh into the kitchen and into dishes?

Menu planning always starts by understanding what quality, local and fresh products are in season. Only then do we build a menu, one which is designed to surprise the customer and enhance the gastronomic experience.

How would you describe the food you create at Le Comptoir Robuchon to someone who’s never experienced your kind of food?

I would describe the food I create at Le Comptoir Robuchon as taking the Joel Robuchon heritage and adding to it with a Mediterranean twist.

What’s your favourite flavour combination?

My favourite food combination is fish with vegetables.

What is the USP of your restaurant?

Le Comptoir Robuchon USP is all about heritage and the freedom to adapt and introduce new recipes.

Factbox

Address: 6 Clarges St, London W1J 8AE
Phone: 020 8076 0570
Website: robuchonlondon.co.uk