Tom started cooking in the late 90s at Hambleton Hall in Rutland. Shortly afterwards he opened two restaurants in Leicester, quickly establishing himself as one of the region’s top chefs, with accolades including "Best Newcomer" and “Midland’s Restaurant of the Year" from The Good Food Guide.
In parallel to running his restaurants Tom broadened his food knowledge with postgraduate study of Food Science at the University of Nottingham and internships at world renowned kitchens including The Fat Duck, Per Se, Gordon Ramsay and WD-50. Leicester had little previous reputation for high-end gastronomy, leading Tony Naylor to note in The Guardian that “such outreach workers to the culinary impoverished definitely deserve any plaudits coming their way”. Terry Durack, writing for the Observer, remarked “Leicester finally has a restaurant that can mix it with the big boys.”
After 15 years Tom sold his restaurant business and now divides his time between working as a food creative (giving culinary consultancy on TV series including Amazon’s dystopian chiller ‘The Feed’ and ‘Peaky Blinders’), recipe development and food styling for national food brands, and bringing up his four children. From his artist studio in Leicester he also creates photography surfaces which have featured in cookbooks from chefs including Nathan Outlaw, Niklas Ekstedt and Tom Kitchin.
I made a pilgrimage to Les Halles (long after Bourdain had left) to eat steak frites. It was OK. The book is better: meat-heavy and full of the wit, honesty and authenticity that made Bourdain universally loved by chefs.
Its title became pretty apt as my dog-eared copy (stolen from my mum’s cookbook collection) became my dependable culinary doctrine for a summer spent in Dorset blagging my way from kitchen porter to chef at a country house hotel in Studland.
John Campbell took me under his wing for a month-long Stage at the two Michelin starred ‘The Vineyard’ early in my career. In the midst of the molecular gastronomy revolution, I always respected his balance of adopting new techniques whilst adhering to classical principles.
A culinary dissection of the French provinces’ regional specialities and a loving masterclass on traditional French cookery. Even though it was published back in 1989, the photography still holds up – a beautiful book.
Canteen Cuisine, Marco Pierre White I never had a copy of White Heat, instead I had this (again, stolen from my mum), A collection of recipes from the restaurant he opened with Michael Caine in the 1990s. the Terrine d’Hiver recipe morphed into my Terrine of pig’s head and foie gras and stayed on my restaurant menu for years.