How I Got Here: Dimitri Plaquet

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

How I Got Here with London-based French traiteur and delicatessen Colette founder Dimitri Plaquet

Related tags Charcuterie French cuisine

The co-founder of London-based French traiteur and delicatessen Colette on building his gourmet delicatessen business, what motivates him, and his favourite places to eat in London.

Why open a traiteur?
I’ve always been a real epicurean, thanks to my father’s love of good food which has rubbed off on me from a young age. Being so passionate about food, my wife and I found it striking that in such a multi-cultural and foody hub as London a traiteur offer was missing. Coming from Belgium where this concept is an integral part of people’s habits, we thought London could be a great market to introduce a French traiteur.  This is how Colette was born, from our love of good, refined, home-made food.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
To surround yourself with the brightest minds and learn to delegate. Being new in this industry, there was a lot to grasp in a very short period of time. When you are an entrepreneur, learning on the job, it can be difficult to get your head out of the water and learn to delegate to the right people. Fortunately, I have managed to surround myself with industry experts such Keith Bird, who stepped in as an advisor during the early days of Colette. He helped us give birth to this new concept, thanks to his extensive network and experience in the industry. Shortly after came another important figure, our director of operations, Noel Goddard. He joined Colette shortly after the launch, and right at the beginning of the first lockdown. He has embraced the situation and managed to make the most out of it, finding new opportunities when it felt like the world was coming to a standstill.  Surrounding yourself with such passionate and dedicated people is, in my mind, key to turning a dream into a successful and profitable business.

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants?
In Belgium, I would say without any doubt La Villa Lorraine group. They are the owners of eight restaurants throughout Brussels, and they have done a fantastic job refurbishing and modernising these institutions while keeping their charm and authenticity. With a total of seven Michelin stars across their restaurants, you know you are in for a treat. In London, to name a few, my go to places includes Social Eating House for a laid-back yet refined culinary experience; Le Gavroche for an exceptional two Michelin star diner; and Scott’s for what I think is the best seafood in town.

What motivates you? 
Sharing the love of fine food and wine, and hearing our customers’ positive feedback.

What keeps you up at night?
Mostly my children at the moment, but also the two new Colette sites we are opening in Wimbledon Village and Northcote Road in the next few weeks. Opening new sites in unstable times is nerve racking, but also extremely exciting.

How do you let off steam?
Fiddle with classic cars.

What’s your signature dish to cook at home?
Sweetbread with béarnaise. 

Typical Sunday?
I like spending time in the kitchen, often cooking pulled pork for a tacos evening with the family. 

Favourite holiday destination?
Swiss Alps.

What are you currently reading?
Reinhold Würth, The Entrepreneur and his company. 

What was your dream job growing up?
Pursuing a career in the army. 

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to business?
My director of operations, Noel Goddard. Noel’s experience, passion for this industry, creativity, and extensive network has been extremely valuable. On top of this, he is a real pleasure to work with.

Best business decision?
Quickly rolling out our online delivery platform and partnering with Deliveroo in order to keep the business trading efficiently during most of 2020.

Worst business decision?
Underestimating the complexity of EPOS systems for a business such as Colette. It is a hybrid between a retail shop and a restaurant, and therefore there was no off the shelf systems to work with. 

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
It is a very competitive industry where things move quickly. Don’t underestimate the amount of work and time you will need to put in.

Bio

Born in Brussels, Plaquet studied for a bachelors and masters in International Business. His background is in the financial sector. Prior to launching Colette, he worked for an agribusiness investment firm focusing on the Latin American market. He launched Colette's first site with his wife Mira on Fulham Road in January 2020. The pair have since launched a second site in Wimbledon, with a third set to open in Wandsworth in September.

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