Our third chef Bio covers Tom Aikens, the now iconic London chef with his own 6 site chain of restaurants under the title of Tom’s Kitchen, 2 further stand-alone restaurants in Hong Kong: The Fat Pig and Pawn, as well as a family-oriented restaurant in Dubai.
Tom is arguably one of the most exciting chefs currently working in the UK and was, in fact, the youngest chef in Britain to achieve two Michelin stars. Hailing from Norfolk although born in London, where he now lives, Tom grew up around food and wine. His father and grandfather were Wine Merchants and regular trips around France with them, sampling the best that the various regions had to offer, meant he was exposed to French gastronomy at an early age. He credits these trips as well as his mum’s home cooking as the inspiration to become a chef
“Mummy’s home cooking was the reason I became a chef; that and the restaurants we went to in France, visiting vineyards with my father during the school holidays. I knew I wanted to be a chef from the age of 12.”
Aikens studied at the Norwich City College Hotel School with his identical twin brother Rob, completing an Advanced Catering Diploma in 1989. Beginning his cheffing career as a commis chef at Michelin-starred Cavalier’s in Battersea. His ascension from this point was rapid, he moved onto The Capital Hotel, working under Philip Britten, followed by a chef-de-partie position with Pierre Koffmann at La Tante Claire when the restaurant won its third Michelin star. He worked for a time at two-star Pied à Terre with Richard Neat, before moving to France to gain more three-star experience, working a year each at Joël Robuchon in Paris and Gérard Boyer’s Les Crayères in Reims.
In 1996 Aikens returned to London, this time as head chef at Pied à Terre where he retained its second Michelin star, making him the youngest chef in Britain to achieve two Michelin stars. He stayed at Pied à Terre for five years before leaving to become head chef at La Tante Claire.
In 2003, Aikens opened his own, eponymous restaurant in Chelsea; ‘Tom Aikens Restaurant’ and then his second restaurant, the brasserie-style ‘Tom’s Kitchen’, opened in Chelsea in 2006. 2008 saw the launch of his ill-fated ‘Tom’s Place’ in Chelsea, which was to close just 6 months later. It is the brasserie-style Tom’s Kitchen that has been an incredible success for the chef though with 6 locations (5 in the UK and 1 in Istanbul). The ethos behind the restaurants is simple: use the very best seasonal and locally sourced ingredients wherever possible. The restaurants work with British suppliers and farmers that are as passionate about growing as the chefs are about cooking. The team is committed to serving fresh, ethically sourced ingredients and goes to great lengths researching the finest sustainable produce.
“Food is my life and my first true love. It has given me more than I could ever imagine. I have met so many amazing people and I feel truly blessed and thankful for these moments and occasions that are built around food. This is the special thing that great food connects all, it holds us together and gives us amazing unique experiences on every level.”
The celebrated chef continually supports The Environmental Justice Foundation to raise awareness of illegal ‘pirate’ fishing and diminishing fish stocks. He also works closely with a number of important charities including the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Campaign, Royal Marsden Cancer Campaign, and School Food Matters, where he teaches young children basic cooking skills.