Interviewed November 2007
Tom Aikens shot to fame when he became the youngest chef to earn two Michelin stars at Pied a Terre. He now has his own Michelin-starred establishment Tom Aikens and a highly successful bistro Tom’s Kitchen. He has just launched Tom's Place, an upmarket take on fish and chips.
Q – How long have you been cooking professionally?
Q – Where did you train to cook?
I went to college in Norfolk at Norwich Catering College, then worked at various London restaurants. At the age of 24 went to France for two years and worked under Joel Robuchon and Gerard Boyer. After that I went to Pied a Terre and earned two Michelin stars at the age of 26.
Q – How would you describe your style of cooking?
It is very visual and I like to put together unique ingredient combinations; it is not classical cooking.
Q – Is there a secret for a successful restaurant?
Yes. As the chef/owner you have to be very driven, very determined, set clear goals and aspirations and work hard to deliver them.
Q – Do you have a “signature dish” or favourite dish you enjoy cooking?
I enjoy braised pork or pigs head.
Q – Do you have a favourite ingredient?
Which restaurant do you most enjoy eating at on your night off?
What is your most interesting or fun experience from your time in restaurants?
I had to thrown a couple of people out of the restaurant because after turning up late they were rude to staff, and then refused to leave; eventually the police had to escort them off the premises.
What would be your “last request” dish?
A nice roast leg of lamb with garlic and rosemary
Is there another chef that you most admire?
Any advice you would give to someone wanting to become a chef?
Start off young (17 or 18) and be very driven and focused. Work abroad e.g. in France or Spain.
Any final thoughts you’d like to add?
The new phase of restaurants involves simplified food. Customers are more knowledgeable, and there is a trend towards both traceable ingredients and seasonal food. The Tom Aiken fish and chip shop will be opening in the middle of October. Guy Bosum has taken over as head chef at Tom’s Kitchen.