Tom Kerridge – Premium CUT

Interview by Joanna Wood Tom Kerridge shot to national fame and culinary treasure-dom via the TV series the Great British Menu – in 2010 and 2011. But the industry had known about him ever since he – along with wife, Beth – bought the Hand & Flowers pub in Marlow, Bucks in 2005 and immediately set about transforming it into a top-notch gastropub. The phenomenal success of the restaurant rests on its modern take and delivery of, essentially, big-flavoured British-rooted dishes: the skill with which Kerridge and his team cook these having earned the Hand & Flowers two Michelin stars. The only pub in the world to hold that gong. Which means he now gets invited all over the world to demo at food festivals (Singapore included). Over to you, Tom…

BASIC PREP

Born: Salisbury 1973. Career highlights: Early career/training – Calcot Manor. Then stints in London at Stephen Bull and Rhodes in the Square (Michelin star); first head chef job at Bellamy’s Dining Room, Great Fosters hotel; senior sous chef, Monsieur Max (Michelin star); two years as head chef Adlards (Michelin star).  As chef-proprietor, gaining one, then two, Michelin star(s), Hand & Flowers (respectively, 2006 & 2012). Where now? chef-proprietor Hand & Flowers, 127 West Street, Marlow SL7 2BP (Bucks). www.thehandandflowers.co.uk Known for: flavour-punched British cooking using quality British produce eg tenderloin of Wiltshire pork with pickled mustard leaf. Word of advice…aim to be a good chef de par tie at 24-years-old, not a head chef. You don’t need an all-singing-all-dancing kitchen to win a Michelin star. We started at the H&F with a six ring burner and a Falcon grill. Now my fav bit of kit is my Athenor stove, it’s like having a Bentley parked in the middle of the room. We started with just myself and two other chefs. Now we’re a brigade of 14. Colleges teach you how to be in a kitchen environment. Smaller kitchens allow you to see and learn much, much more than bigger places. My office is full of books – books are important. Damian Allsop is one of the best chocolatiers I’ve ever come across… …he developed a chocolate with us – chocolate and beer, the ganache had a lovely, malty flavour. I worked with a lot of Korean chefs in Singapore. Their precision was incredible. Being a judge on the Great British Menu was a lot easier than competing! If a young chef has enthusiasm and half a brain, then we can go somewhere with him. Man management is very important when you run a kitchen. It’s not just about cooking. Everybody is different. You speak to one person one way, another person another way. Training is on-going. It’s never-ending. It’s relentless. But it pays dividends. Every business needs to make a profit, so it can grow. We monitor our costs every single day. At the end of the week we work out a gross profit margin. I’d rather give value-for-money and good service than make an extra 2%-3% on costs. Media’s very important. When people see something on the TV they want to come and eat it. Pork is my favourite meat. You’ll always find in on my menu. I don’t just use local produce I use the best. You can get beautiful poultry, fantastic beef in Great Britain. Everything is here you just have to look for it. There are no plans for a second H&F!

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