Tom’s Kitchen

Founded by award winning chef Tom Aikens, Tom’s Kitchen is a collection of restaurants, delis and bars, using the best British produce to create a variety of dishes.

 

With an equal focus on the suppliers they work with and customer comfort, it is no surprise to see Tom’s Kitchen continuing to expand with a sixth restaurant opening recently in the Mailbox, Birmingham.

We joined Richard O’Connell Group Executive Chef, to find out more about the brand…

In the kitchen at Tom's Kitchen
Great ingredients brought together with care at Tom's Kitchen

Why do you think the Tom’s Kitchen brand has been so successful?

Richard:
When Tom set up the Chelsea restaurant, he had a plaque made that said ‘food for everyone’. That is our founding principle – it’s about inclusiveness. Whether that’s a pie and a pint or someone looking for something different, we make sure there is something for everyone.

What do you want diners to take away from a night out at Tom’s Kitchen?

Richard:
Simply that they remember the experience, have loved what they have eaten, and of course that they will come back!

Tom’s Kitchen is built around ethically sourced food and your support of British suppliers. Why is this so important, and how do you select new suppliers?

Richard:
Good ingredients are crucial. You can’t take bad fish and create a good finished product, it just won’t work! You need great ingredients to make great dishes. We have discovered that the best way to find new suppliers is by word of mouth or even social media. Take CackleBean for example, our new egg supplier – I found them on Instagram!

Where do you get inspiration from?

Richard:
Obviously, we get inspiration from Tom. He visits all the restaurants regularly because they are actually his kitchens – not just in name only! We actively encourage input and ideas from our chefs. Collaboration in the kitchen really helps with inspiration for new dishes and it supports our overall value.

What is great about working here is that the specials’ board is owned by the chefs. So, at each Tom’s Kitchen, the chefs can create their own signature dishes for the specials’ board, as well as cooking Tom’s dishes. This allows the chefs to show off their own style and use the same ingredients but put their own twist on it.

How did Mac Fridays start?

Richard:
I have to admit, it started as a bit of a gimmick. The idea was to take something really traditional and homely like macaroni cheese and see what else we could do with it – something to make it really special. It is of course based on our founding principle of ‘food for everyone’, and it has been a big hit! My next challenge is to create the perfect ‘Buddy Burger’, a 1kg monster burger to share with your mate. The idea is that you pick from a list of ingredients/toppings and customise it to suit your taste. It is all about having a bit of fun with your mate…

What challenges are you facing at the moment?

Richard:
It can often be difficult to get the right calibre of candidate with the required skills when recruiting for the kitchen. Our trainees need a lot of skills, but we have a lot to offer because we don’t just do the same thing all the time – they get experience in everything when working at Tom’s Kitchen.