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Pierre Maitre has more than 20 years’ experience in hospitality gleaned from top names in the business including Pierre Maitre standing out Chez Maitre Four Seasons hotels and resorts, Fortnum & Mason, The Sign of the Don and The Connaught Hotel and a masters in hospitality management from Vatel Bordeaux. But it was the enforced lengthy break during the pandemic, and his daughter about to start school, that prompted him to put his experience to the test and venture out on his own to open Chez Maitre in Eltham.

Pierre Maitre standing outside Chez Maitre

Up early to bake his own bread and patisseries, Chef Patron Pierre’s eye is firmly on creating a foodie destination for local people. Whether it’s commuters heading to Eltham or Falconwood stations wanting a croissant, pain au chocolat or pain aux raisins with a coffee, parents meeting friends after the school run, homeworkers popping in for a tasty lunch, or people wanting a treat in the evening such as a cheeseboard with wine (or port!). Pierre also plans to collaborate with other local businesses and entertainers to do pop-up evenings aimed at bringing the local community together.

There’s real attention to detail and an emphasis on educating people about food too. On the day we met, Pierre had been in London barista training with two new staff and learning about the coffee they’ll be selling. He says that decaf is not environmentally friendly as to make it all coffee beans are sent to Sweden to be decaffeinated. However, he has sourced a version from Colombia which has the smallest carbon footprint. Pierre will be crafting a Christmas delicacy using his Mum’s recipe (‘nice with champagne!’); and he will use a local supplier for mince pies as ‘we just compete with perfection, so we’ll collaborate and sell it instead!’

Pierre’s business has a strong focus on sustainability, whether it’s the ethically sourced flour or coffee; the beautiful counters – both antique chemist cabinets updated with reinforced glass tops – or the chairs and tables sourced from France. The cups being used are sustainable whether takeaway (in a compostable cup and lid) or to have in; customers are encouraged to bring their own bags or be charged for paper bags to take tasty treats home, and coffee wastewater is recycled for plant watering.

Mindful of being an energy intensive business with ovens fired up most of the day (not to mention the impact of increased energy bills on businesses this winter), Pierre is also considering ways to use the heat to cook additional items during the day when the ovens usually cool down: ‘Brisket of beef or pulled pork would be just perfect cooked slow at the lower temperature’ he says.

But the ethical nature of the business doesn’t end there. All staff, regardless of hours worked, will have a contract, and receive pension contributions too. Pierre is using local builders and suppliers to help him get the shop and bakery ready. There will be closures for a summer break and over Christmas too. Customers will also be able to buy a hot drink to pay forward for someone unable to afford one – and if deliveries become part of the business, then a bicycle or e-car will be the way forward.

McBrides partner Tanya Hamilton is a neighbour of Pierre’s and says that the local community is very excited about his new venture opening: “We wish Pierre every success!”

Visit Chez Maitre on Westmount Road, Eltham SE9.

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McBrides Chartered Accountants