Fresh from a whirlwind few months which included the launch of his first TV show – ‘Proper Pub Grub’ – and accompanying book, Tom Kerridge is already eyeing up his next project.
The down-to-earth chef, who owns the Hand and Flowers in Marlow, has signed up to be a patron of East Berkshire College’s new hospitality and catering academy, based at its Langley campus, Slough.
He and restaurant staff will work with young chefs at the multi-million pound centre and, speaking at the launch earlier this month, he said: “Working with the college is a chance for me to give something back and inspire the next generation of chefs and front of house staff.
“We have a talented team of individuals at the Hand and Flowers and they are looking forward to sharing their knowledge with students who are at the very beginning of their careers.”
And Tom knows how important education is. “I started cooking at a young age, but I didn’t realise it was the career for me until I went to catering college and got an evening job in a kitchen,” the 40-year-old added.
He prides himself on nurturing young talent and a prime example is Aaron Mulliss, head chef at the Hand and Flowers. He worked his way up the role in only four years, after joining as a Chef de Partie. “We have always been an employer of young people,” he said. “It’s about taking youth and encouraging it to grow.”
But what’s his secret to success? “Having the right attitude and working hard is the key in this industry. You have to love what you do.”
It stood Tom in good stead. His popular pub became the first in the country last year to receive a second Michelin star.
His first cooking show – which centres on traditional pub grub, with a simple twist – is also airing on BBC2 and the Marlow Football Club fan added: “It’s great to be asked to do your own show and do your own dishes, it’s been an honour. They heard about what we were doing [at the pub] and we’re really pleased with how the show has ended up.
“The guys that make the programme are all good friends. I’m a laid back guy and like to have a laugh, so it worked well.”
Tom, originally from the West Country, worked in restaurants in Gloucestershire, before moving to London where he worked as sous chef for Gary Rhodes at Rhodes in the Square, among other jobs.
Before setting up the Hand and Flowers with wife Beth in 2005, he worked as head chef at Michelin star Adlards.