16th May 2014

An interview with Tom Kitchin

Chef Tom Kitchin

After training under top chefs in some of the world’s most acclaimed restaurants, in 2006 Tom Kitchin settled in Scotland with his wife Michaela and opened up The Kitchin.  Now Tom, a regular award winner, has become a recognised face on our TV screens, continually sharing with us his passion for the finest, freshest seasonal Scottish produce.

What do you enjoy most about being about being a chef?
I have a sincere love for cooking. I just love the buzz of the kitchen, the adrenalin and kick I get out of the pressures of each day. To me it’s all about respecting the produce but also about a genuine passion, drive and a complete devotion to the industry.

...And the least?
Some of my early memories of cooking in kitchens such as Pierre Koffmann’s La Tante Claire were some of the toughest times in my career.  It’s always difficult being put under pressure in the kitchen, especially when tiredness gets the better of you, but you have to be passionate, determined, and stick it out.  It will be worth it in the long run!

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
In recent years a new genre of local pub has emerged in Britain, serving good, fresh food with quality, local ingredients. Talented chefs are recreating classic dishes in a modern way. Our pub, The Scran & Scallie has given me an opportunity to look back to some really simple yet comforting, traditional recipes - those forgotten classics - and give them a modern twist. Local pubs are definitely offering much more than just a pie and a pint.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
The produce you use should always be fresh and in season – quite simply, it tastes better, and is a great way of pairing flavours and textures exactly as nature intended.  At The Kitchin we live and breathe our ethos ‘From Nature to Plate’ meaning everything we serve is as fresh as it possibly can be, delivered straight from land and sea and cooked that very same day.

At the end of a long day, what do you like to cook?
Contrary to some chefs, I love cooking when I am off. My wife Michaela and I enjoy nothing more than a home-made meal, or simple food such as langoustine, bread and butter with a crisp glass of white wine. Simple, uncomplicated food is sometimes the best. 

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Without a doubt the first grouse of the season.  Gamekeepers, suppliers and us chefs alike eagerly await the 12th August every year – the Glorious Twelfth when the first grouse birds arrive, heralding the start of the glorious game season. Grouse embodies all that is great about Scottish produce - deep, complex and fresh, and there is something incredibly special about eating it on the very first day it becomes available. We have diners booking as far as a year in advance to enjoy it. 

What would you be if you weren’t a chef?
In my dreams probably a footballer - I’m still hoping I’ll get a game for Liverpool one day!

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
My shellfish rock pool – the assortment of shellfish and sea vegetables I use are inspired by nature and really showcase the fantastic seafood Scotland has to offer. I have worked in some of the top restaurants in the world and I couldn't believe all of the wonderful fish and shellfish that would arrive every day - all from my home of Scotland. I get such joy out of preparing this dish as it reflects so elegantly the way all of these ingredients sit together in their natural habitat. 

How do you come up with new dishes?
Every dish I create at the restaurant is based around the natural marriages of produce in season and what my fantastic Scottish suppliers bring me that day.  The suppliers I work with are some of the best in the country and they allow me to continue to discover new ingredients which then inspire me to create new dishes. I think that the reason my cooking style is always evolving is because I never sit still.  I constantly search for new ways to develop dishes and incorporate them into my menus through the methods of cooking I enjoy.  

For more information about Tom and The Kitchin, visit thekitchin.com