Flash-grilled: Tom Booton

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Flash-grilled Tom Booton The Grill at The Dorchester's head chef Chef to Watch Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards

Related tags: Tom Booton, Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards, Chef

The Grill at The Dorchester's head chef, who was named Chef to Watch at last year's Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards, tells us about his career to date.

What was your first industry job?
Commis chef at Le Talbooth.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
My team say I would be on the radio as I talk too much…

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Björn Frantzén - I ate in Zen in Singapore and it blew my mind.

Pet hate in the kitchen?
Dishonesty. Luckily my team and I have an honest and open relationship and we will always say how we feel.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
Some people like to comment on my age and how I should still be at school… I try not to listen to it anymore, I let the food do the talking. 

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
Simple, well-cooked, beautiful ingredients.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
We have been very lucky here to be honest, touch wood. I often find I am my worst critic.

À la carte or tasting menu?
À la carte.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant?
The Greenhouse in Dublin.

Favourite fast food joint?

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Fried food!

MasterChef ​or Great British Menu​?
Love them both! Twisting my arm I would say Great British Menu.

Most overrated food?
I don’t really have one to be honest, it’s all to do with how you use each ingredient.

Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?

Who would your dream dinner party guests be?
The Rolling Stones, it would be a great party!

What’s your earliest food memory?
Sunday roast with over-cooked beef.

Twitter or Instagram?

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
Stuck up a mountain in France when I couldn’t ski yet! Never felt so hopeless.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
My sofa.

Tipple of choice?

Favourite food and drink pairing?
I love the mojitos and crispy chilli wings from Smoking Goat! Can’t beat that.

What do you consider your signature dish?
Everyone else says it’s the lobster Thermidor tart dish, but I prefer not to have a signature dish, I want to keep changing and improving, no dish is ever perfect.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
My team, if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be where I am.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Ribeye steak and chips, loads of mushrooms and onion rings.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Head down, push on - you will have good days and bad days, but love every minute of it because it can open so many doors and you meet so many amazing people.

Related topics: People, Profiles, Chef

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