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Q&A with head chef Tom Booton
March 19, 2021
What’s your style of cooking?
I’m all about fine dining without the formality. My menu is modern British in style – approachable, elegant and vibrant. The dishes are all ingredient-led as I like to think of my cooking as shining a light on local producers and their exceptional produce. I believe that when you cook with respect the ingredients speak for themselves on the plate.
What are three ingredients you couldn’t live without?
First and foremost my amazing team, a head chef is only ever as good as his team. I would then pick Malden sea salt flakes and Duchess Farms cold-pressed raw rapeseed oil as two ingredients that I use all the time.
What’s your favourite dish on the menu?
I’m particularly proud of my lobster thermidor tart because I believe it tastes as good as it looks.
What are some of the latest trends you’re seeing?
Food culture has changed dramatically in my 12 years as a chef. There’s been a shift from very formal and theatrical dining to focusing more on quality ingredients and sustainable sourcing. Today’s diners are looking for an experience and a sense of personality. I’m sure we’ll see more restaurants becoming less formal with their service. Mexican cuisine is also really becoming popular in London, which is usually an indicator of what’s to come in other major cities.
What do you like to eat when you’re not working?
A real favourite of mine is butter chicken served with rice and a Peshwari naan. If I’m looking for fail-safe dinner party dish I often create a Beef Wellington as this is always a great crowd pleaser.
What does your ultimate day off consist of?
I like to wake up late and head to Bernardi’s in Marble Arch for a leisurely brunch. This is often followed by a walk through Hyde Park for a bit of exercise and fresh air, before joining some friends in a local pub for a couple of pints.
What inspired you to become a chef?
I fell in love with the buzz of the kitchen the moment I stepped through the doors of Le Talbooth in my home town of Colchester. I was only 15-years-old and went there on work experience.
Do you have a favourite chef that you admire?
Ian Rhodes, my executive chef at Le Talbooth, has had a huge influence on me and my career. I spent five years learning the ropes from him and learnt so much. I’m also grateful to chef Alyn Williams for giving me a platform to showcase my ideas and for being a great source of inspiration.
Have you got a favourite restaurant?
Singapore is one of my favourite places to visit. I recently went there and dined at Zén which is out of this world. We were there to see my partner’s family and were blown away by chef Björn Frantzén’s concept and menu
Do you collect anything?
Dorchester Collection hotels all have their own toy ducks which they give to guests. I’ve begun to collect these and have them on display in the kitchen at The Grill.
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