Five Minutes With... Tom Aitkens

Five Minutes With... Tom Aitkens
Published: 11 February 2018 - 9:37 a.m.
By: Claudia De Brito

Describe one of your earliest food memories?

I was probably the age of eight or so. My twin brother and I were helping out in the kitchen with my mother. She would involve us in making cakes and home baking, or just weighing things out, but we were always on hand to help to lick out the occasional sticky raw cake mix that was left in the bottom of the bowl. I have a great memory of her making milk bread, the smell was so incredible. Living in Norfolk, we had a large back garden where we grew a lot of our own fruit and vegetables. As a result, from an early age I got to learn about seasonality and how to grow and cook great produce.

And your most memorable food experience?

When I was 12 years old, on a particular trip down to France my father booked us into a Michelin-starred restaurant/hotel, by complete accident. My father never used a guide book and everything was done by word of mouth, or a notable place to go and try out. He only realised the magnitude of what he had booked when we arrived at the hotel to find our car surrounded by four guys wearing white gloves in white jackets and bow ties. That evening I had the most amazing meal that I have never to this day forgot, it is one of those inspirational gastronomic moments that I will always remember. Ask any chef and I think they will have something similar.

Describe your culinary style?

It’s very tricky to pinpoint the exact style as I have cooked Michelin-style food for most of my career and this would be definitely in the mould of gastronomic French cooking, but then I have the casual all day dining concept Tom’s Kitchen which is very much focused on great British classics and comfort food, then with other restaurants in Hong Kong and of course Dubai I have had to adapt my style of cooking to these locations as well.

How do you feel about the term ‘celebrity chef’?

Not much really, I would never want that tag but of course realise that what chefs do completely revolves around press & PR so they definitely go hand in hand. There are many levels of celebrity chefs those that work behind a stove and those who don’t step in a kitchen at all…

What are the standout dishes on the new menu at Pots, Pans & Boards?

For breakfast try the Mediterranean breakfast as it has something for everyone — Spanish charcuterie, rosemary roasted pepper & feta, smoked cheese, crushed avocado, pan con tomate, fried eggs,
merguez sausage and ratatouille. The new fish sandwich of called a cod dog which is crispy fried cod, tartar sauce and lettuce on a super light brioche roll. The slow cooked beef cheek with creamed parmesan and truffle polenta is a winner as it’s a lovely comforting dish that’s full of flavour. And for desert, banoffee in a jar is a rich decadent dish composed of banana compote and dulce de leche.

Looking at Dubai’s food scene, what would you like to see more of?

I think it has it all pretty much from the high end to the all day to the fast casual; there is not really a single concept that has not been done in Dubai.

Do you have any new openings planned for this region?

I am opening something in Abu Dhabi in 2018.

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