With a father and grandfather in the wine business, it wasn’t long before Norfolk-born Tom Aikens discovered France, and the central importance of food in French life.
Inspired, Tom began to cook for himself, and enrolled at the Norwich City College Hotel School. ‘I found something I was good at,’ he recalls, ‘and something I loved.’ Gifted and determined, he managed to get a job as stageaire (trainee) at David Cavalier’s restaurant in Battersea. Working from 6am to midnight, he proved himself worthy of the chef’s role that came up a few months later.
It was the start of a remarkable career that took him to Pierre Koffman’s La Tante Claire in Chelsea, and then Pied à Terre in Charlotte Street, under Richard Neat. After spells in Paris, with Jöel Robuchon, and in Reims with Gerard Boyer, Tom returned to Pied à Terre as Head Chef. There, at 26, he became the youngest British chef ever awarded two Michelin stars.
In 2003, Tom opened his own, eponymous restaurant in Chelsea, winning a Michelin star in 2004. In 2005, it was placed eighth in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Tom’s second restaurant, the brasserie-style Tom’s Kitchen, opened in Chelsea in 2006. He opened another Tom’s Kitchen at London’s Somerset House in 2009, and there are plans for more in 2013.
See Tom’s Facebook page