Pearls of Wisdom: Tom Aikens

By Stefan Chomka

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Zagat survey, Michelin guide, Tom aikens

Tom Aikens
Tom Aikens
Tom Aikens was the youngest British chef to win two Michelin stars and is chef patron at Tom Aikens in Chelsea

Tom Aikens was the youngest British chef to win two Michelin stars and is chef patron at Tom Aikens in Chelsea

Pierre Koffmann is one of my biggest influences ​for his skills in terms of showing me how to prepare dishes like fish and game. He was one of the quickest chefs I ever worked with. And Joël Robuchon for his accuracy of timing and precision.

This business is all about customers.​ People are wanting more simple food and we are doing less complicated things. It is very important to listen to your customer requirements.

A second star is on our horizon,​ but we have to carry on with what we are doing and see what happens.

I love doing sports and focus on different aspects outside work. You can get too tied up in work, work, work, but you need to have a balance to keep your feet on the ground.

I don’t do a lot to relax.​ I go to the gym and do a lot of cycling. I’ve just entered a race where you do five and a half marathons in the Sahara, in April. I am not one of those people who can relax, sit down and put their feet up.

I love the way that in terms of creativity you can do whatever you want ​with a multitude of ingredients and methods of cooking. There is no other career that offers so many different possibilities.

I have always tried to have a very positive outlook.​ Negativity doesn’t get you anywhere.

The industry is definitely doing a lot more to be sustainable.

The cooking part is the easy part.​ Anyone can put a fillet of beef in a water bath and roast it off. Being a chef is about the process of getting people together and ensuring they pay attention and get things right.

I don’t like the hours.​ There is no social life, but there is no point in moaning about it.

Being the youngest British chef to get a second Michelin star,​ at Pied à Terre, has been one of my best achievements. Opening Tom Aikens was also a massive highlight.

Going into administration was very difficult for everyone,​ but through their own dedication we got through it.

I deserved the flak I got, it was my own fault​ and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I will always get judged by people. If people think I’m an arse then I probably was an arse. I am trying to make things better.

The restaurant guides all have a purpose,​ but in no way does a Michelin star make my food better than somebody else’s.

The media coverage doesn’t help my cause,​ but you can learn from your mistakes. Everyone in their career goes through massive ups and downs, but you’ve got to take them head on and not hide away. That’s what I’m trying to do.

Every day is a different day.​There is never a dull day.

It’s great that people can review a restaurant online.​ People should be able to air their views on a restaurant.

I want to keep my nose clean and not make headlines ​for the wrong reasons and try to do positive things instead.

I can’t see myself retiring early.​ It would be like telling an artist they couldn’t paint any more. I’d get bored.

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