He was awarded two Michelin stars by the age of 26 and has a global restaurant empire including five London sites and now Tom Aikens is gearing up to host a four-course dinner to celebrate the month-long Totally Thames festival. He’s a busy man but we caught up with Tom to talk food trends, fads and his ultimate Tom’s Kitchen dish…
Why did you decide to get involved with the Totally Thames Festival?
With four Tom’s Kitchens located by the River Thames – St Katharine Docks, Canary Wharf, Somerset House and HMS Belfast – it seemed like the perfect opportunity to celebrate such a fantastic feature of this wonderful city.
How did you decide the menu for your Thames Dinner?
I discussed the dinner menu with the St Katharine Docks’ team and put a menu together that was seasonal, 100% representational of Tom’s Kitchen and included four courses that we knew people would enjoy. Not only are we celebrating Totally Thames with this menu, we are also celebrating seasonal British food at its best.
Which is your favourite riverside venue in London?
Tom’s Kitchen of course…! I also love to visit Borough Market and then take a stroll along the Thames embankment.
When you’re not at your own restaurants, where do you like to dine?
I love The Clove Club, Story and The Typing Room in London. Overseas: Noma in Denmark, Franzen and Faviken in Sweden and Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy.
You’re one of Britain’s most acclaimed chefs but did you ever have a Plan B?
I wanted to be a jockey or some sort of endurance athlete.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
My daughters, Violette and Josephine, and my partner, Justine. I work and travel a lot so whenever I get chance to spend time with them it’s wonderful. Violette also loves to cook so she’d be my little helper.
What is your favourite thing about the London food scene?
I like that London is always so exciting. The hospitality industry is constantly growing here and whether it’s a British brasserie such as Tom’s Kitchen, a Michelin starred restaurant or an egg cafe, Londoners now have such a diverse amount of establishments to choose from all catering for any occasion or customer.
What are your favourite food trends?
It’s fascinating to watch the development of new trends and ideas in food and restaurants. I’m never one for following a trend but instead making sure that we keep ahead – I read a lot of different articles on food development via magazines and various blogs. New ideas come and go very quickly and it takes a lot to make one single idea into an actual reality therefore it’s very important to surround yourself with creative influences and stay true to your own style. I love to bounce ideas around and gain any valuable feedback on a new idea before I introduce it to the paying customer.
And are there any food fads or crazes you thought we could have done without?
Not off hand, but they are only trends and never last anyway, its like fashion; one day it’s in, the next day its out… Saying that – the use of foams everywhere; I am glad that’s stopped.
What do you predict for the future in the London food scene?
The next thing is really just to do with the experience of dining and how customers are wanting a really good night out that awakens all of the senses. It’s not just food, but sight and sound, a place that has a great concept that is true and not gimmicky, with passion and craft.
As well as your London restaurants you have one in Istanbul, do you have any plans to open another restaurant abroad?
We will be opening a Tom’s Kitchen Deli in Dubai this November. We will also be opening another Tom’s Kitchen restaurant, bar and deli in Birmingham this December. It’s really exciting to be able to grow as a brand and take Tom’s Kitchen further afield whilst retaining our offering and core values.
We’re in Tom’s Kitchen, what should we order?
Our classic Seven Hour lamb – it’s delicious!
Tom’s Kitchen’s Totally Thames Dinner takes place on 1st September at 7pm at St Katherine’s Docks, 1 Commodity Quay, E1W 1AZ. £2 from each ticket will be donated to the Thames Festival Trust. Vegetarian menu available on request. For tickets email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 3011 5433.
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Fran can be found sipping espresso martinis by night and, by day, on the hunt for London's best brunch. Bonus points for a runny yolk and the perfect flat white.