Douglas and Elizabeth Pestell took over La Petite Maison, Topsham in October 2000, realising Douglas’ lifelong dream to run his own restaurant.
Trained in the classical style, Douglas worked for British Transport Hotels for many years, putting in time at the prestigious Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland, as well as many other four and five star establishments around the UK. The greatest influence on his career, however, was a three month stage course at triple Michelin star holder Michel Guérards’s famous restaurant in south west France.
“It means you actually work for nothing, but you learn a great deal,” Douglas explains. “At this level of cuisine things get pretty serious, believe me. The biggest lesson I learned was the importance of consistency in quality. Every dish, every time, has to be absolutely spot on.”
Returning to the UK in 1987, Douglas worked as executive chef for the Forte hotel chain and then as a freelance consultant and menu developer, with clients including Debenhams and Top Shop. All the while the idea of owning his own restaurant was growing in his mind.
“Liz was a bit dubious at first, but she finally came around to the idea,” Douglas admits. “Because she’s Cornish by birth, we started looking in that area, but we failed to find suitable premises. Then we heard about La Petite Maison, came to look at it and realised it was exactly what I always had in mind.” We wanted to use predominantly
local food and suppliers of which there are, in abundance. We have beautiful fresh fish, meats, game and of course vegetables.
Size and location were important factors in the choice. “A maximum of 30 covers was about right for the sort of family orientated atmosphere we wanted to create,” Douglas says. “Liz is very much a people person and she builds up a very personal relationship with customers. On most nights it’s like a private dinner party for friends.”
We are closing for good after service on 23rd December 2015
Phone (01392) 873660 to book your table
Closed for lunch