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Andrew Fairlie Scholarship 2019

Meet the Judges - Tom Kerridge

With the launch of the inaugural Andrew Fairlie Scholarship, we’re getting to know the judges that make up the expert judging panel. Now it’s the turn of Michelin-starred chef, Tom Kerridge.

Tom Kerridge

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As a Michelin-starred chef, Tom Kerridge has a wealth of experience and knowledge when it comes to the food industry, and with three restaurants under his belt, he knows more than most what it takes to become a successful chef.

Here, we find out what inspired Tom in his career, how he constructs his menus and the qualities he is looking for in the next Andrew Fairlie Scholar.

Could you tell us a bit about your career background?

“I started off washing up, and fell in love with the industry back in the West Country working in country house hotels. The atmosphere and buzz of being in the kitchen is like nothing else. There is a great energy that exudes from the kitchen, that sense of expectation and excitement captured me from an early age.

“I moved up from London in my early 20s and worked in restaurants and hotels, many of which had Michelin stars – this is where I began to feel comfortable with the standard of cooking expected of me. Most importantly, quality and produce was at the forefront in these kitchens. I eventually moved to Norfolk to take on my first head chef position for David Adlard at Adlard’s Restaurant where, as a team, we succeeded in retaining a Michelin star for two guides.

“I then took the opportunity to open The Hand & Flowers with my wife Beth, which was our first business. We achieved a Michelin star within the first ten months of opening, with a very small kitchen and front of house team. As a company we have grown with some amazing people, and as a huge team effort we are now the very proud guardians of two Michelin stars at The Hand & Flowers.

“Four years ago we opened our second space called The Coach which, in its third year, achieved a Michelin star. Then last year we opened Kerridge’s Bar & Grill in the fantastic Corinthia Hotel in the centre of London. It is a great dining room with the ethos of our Marlow businesses running through it.”

Can you remember the first menu you designed?
“The first menu that was all mine would have been at Adlard’s in Norwich. What the dishes were I can’t remember exactly, however there is a basis and ethos to my menu design that I still follow to this day. I’m a huge fan of three course a la carte menus that include a hot starter, a cold meat starter (e.g a terrine), a soup, and a fish starter (maybe cured or soused), then build onwards from that.

“My main courses will always consist of two or three red meats, one or two white meats, plus fish options. Main course dishes should be exciting but not daunting, and a lot of mine are rejuvenated and revitalised old favourites. When it comes to desserts, oven permitting, they always include a soufflé, a chocolate pudding, seasonal fruit, a steamed or sponge-like cake and a cream based dessert.

What is your favourite thing about working in hospitality?
“The opportunities – the harder you work, the more exciting things happen so say yes to everything. You get the chance to meet so many exciting, diverse and eclectic people, and you can see the world, and taste and eat so many different things.”

What are the biggest challenges facing aspiring chefs today?

“To stay focused. There are so many opportunities to move between restaurants all the time, where chefs perhaps only leave to plate dishes and become ‘Instagram chefs’, rather than spending time in a kitchen for two or three years, learning to actually become a real ‘chef’.

“The process of running a kitchen is very different to the process of cooking. It is an equally important process that must be learnt for when young chefs make that leap and become head chefs.”

What impact do you think the Andrew Fairlie Scholarship will have on Scotland’s hospitality sector?

“I very much hope that the Scholarship brings through new, exciting, dynamic talent that Andrew would be proud of, showcasing the beautiful and amazing produce that Scotland has to offer.”

What 3 words would you use to describe a potential Andrew Fairlie scholar?

“Focused, passionate and generous.”

Do you have any advice for applicants to the Andrew Fairlie Scholarship?
“Stay true to what you believe in, be bold, confident and allow simplicity, matched with technique, to rule your heart.”

The Andrew Fairlie Scholarship is an incredible opportunity for aspiring chefs – do you think you have what it takes? You can find more details and apply for the scholarship here.