Flash-grilled: Tom De Keyser

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Flash-grilled: Tom De Keyser head chef at The Hand and Flowers Marlow Tom Kerridge

Related tags: Chef, Restaurant, The Hand & Flowers

The Hand and Flowers head chef tells us what his favourite food and drink pairing is, what he'd do if he wasn't in kitchens, and his top restaurant meals.

What was your first industry job?
Washing up in a pub.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
Forensic scientist.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Simon Bonwick – cooks classical dishes with his own twist, doesn’t care what people think and is a one man army!

Pet hate in the kitchen?
Wonky chopping board.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
Someone once told me a dish had 'too much flavour'.

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
Ingredient and seasonally led, simple cooking letting the flavours and ingredients shine for themselves.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
A knife! What else.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Either my mum’s lasagne and Caesar salad; or my father in law's Christmas hangover chilli con carne. 

À la carte or tasting menu?
À la carte.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant?
Cassoulet at Benoit in Paris; or lobster soup at Simon Bonwick’s [now closed] The Crown at Burchett’s Green.

Favourite fast food joint?
Tony's Kebab in Marlow.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Roast potatoes

MasterChef or Great British Menu?

Most overrated food?
Don’t know really, but most underrated is definitely a tomato salad.

Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Staff leaning on things and not standing up properly.

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
I once fell in my grandad’s pond and my mum had to perform CPR.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
The Ship, Marlow.

Tipple of choice?
Lager top.

Favourite food and drink pairing?
Lager with pie, mash and liquor.

What do you consider your signature dish?
Jellied eel.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
Not really a review but my dad always says everything I cook is too salty or rich, yet insists on trying my cooking all the time especially for special occasions so that’s quite inconvenient.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Be clean and turn up on time!

Related topics: People, Profiles, Chef

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