Flash-grilled: Tom Tsappis

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Flash-grilled: Tom Tsappis head chef at Kiliecrankie House in Highland Perthshire, Scotland

Related tags: Chef

The head chef at Kiliecrankie House in Highland Perthshire, Scotland, on his favourite fast food burger, the importance of making time to eat and travel, and a decadent signature dish.

What was your first industry job?
After graduating from culinary school, I spent some time staging, including at Michelin-starred restaurants Aquavit and The Man Behind the Curtain, after which I set up a supper club in London that was a precursor to what we are doing now.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
I left finance to work in kitchens so I’d probably be doing that still. 

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Andoni Luis Aduriz, who runs in my opinion, the most creative restaurant in the world in Mugaritz, with an entirely new menu each year, and no fear of challenging his diners. It is impossible to eat there and not be astounded.

Pet hate in the kitchen?
Chefs putting tea-towels over their shoulders.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
A customer once asked if I was the chef, even though he’d just watched me in our open kitchen for the past three and a half hours.

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
Punchy flavoured, narrative-led creative dishes.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
Fortunately, all the reviews we’ve had so far have been very complimentary.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
Rubber spatula.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Several Peking ducks and a couple of Easter eggs.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant?
I am fortunate to have been to many excellent restaurants but one that sticks in my mind is the first time I went to Brat in London's Shoreditch. I went for lunch and loved it so much, that I went back for dinner on the same night and sat in the same seat.

Favourite fast food joint?
In-N-Out Burger – Double-Double 'animal style' is the best burger in the world.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Sound of the Sea by Heston Blumenthal – the single best restaurant dish I have ever eaten.

MasterChef ​or Great British Menu​?
Great British Menu​.

Most overrated food?
Foie gras.

Who would your dream dinner party guests be?
The entire cast of Knives Out​ for a murder mystery evening could be fun.

Tipple of choice?
Guinness or a piña colada.

Favourite food and drink pairing?
Korean fried chicken and demi-sec Champagne.

What do you consider your signature dish?
Dripping fried porridge – a slice of porridge that has been cooked in Wagyu stock, filled with Wagyu oxtail and fried in Wagyu fat. We top it off with pickled walnut puree and Isle of Mull cheddar. It is like the most decadent Lorne sausage and brown sauce you’ve ever eaten.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
I would say to try everything, especially the things you think you won’t like, and then when you have a better idea of where your interests lie, try and learn as much as you possibly can. Also make time to travel and eat, it is just as important as being in a kitchen.

Related topics: People, Profiles, Chef

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