2 Michelin Starred Chef
Interview "The Story of Tom Aikens":
1. Tesi: Tom, you are owner and chef of the restaurant Tom's Kitchen in London. Can you tell me what inspired your love of cooking?
Tom: For as long as I can remember – probably the age of 8 or so – my twin brother and I would help my mother out in the kitchen. She would involve us in making cakes and home baking, or just weighing things out - we were always on hand to help to lick out the occasional sticky raw cake mix that was left in the bottom of the bowl! I have a very real memory of her making milk bread. Sometimes I think it was just a dream as the smell was so incredible.
After that I worked for Pierre Koffman. I asked David if he could speak with Pierre to see if he could get me a job with him at La Tante Claire. I remember nervously going for the interview – meeting him in person was extremely nerve-racking! It was a very short interview. I was given a starting date and that was that. Pierre Koffmann is an exceptional man. I really enjoyed working for him – it was so exhilarating and exciting, there was always a buzz of excitement in his kitchen. He was very much a no nonsense kind of man; you were told what to do and got on with it...quietly. I didn't share a single word with anyone in the kitchen for the first three months – even Lauren on the larder section who I worked with hardly spoke to me, he would do his job and I would do mine.
2. Tesi: What advice would you give a young, skilled cook at the beginning of his professional life who wants to start a career as a chef?
Tom: To stand out as a chef is very difficult. In 1993, when I was at the beginning of my career, it was very unusual to leave your own country. I took the initiative and went to France for 2 years, which was my way to stand out. Today, the world is much smaller and young chefs should travel the world to get better experience, even within the English-speaking world – for a time, and push himself to the limit.
3. Tesi: What does good food mean to you?
Tom: Food is my life and my first true love. It has given me more than I could ever imagine. I have met so many amazing people and I feel truly blessed and thankful for these moments and occasions that are built around food. This is the special thing that great food connects all, it holds us together and gives us amazing unique experiences on every level.
Michelin Starred Chef
Born 1955 in Lucerne, Armin Amrein discovered his passion for cooking in a cookery course during his schooldays. His father was a professional musician and would have liked him to follow in his footsteps, but Armin Amrein wanted to prove his talent in the culinary world rather than the world of music. After his apprenticeship and various seasons in Arosa, Davos, Zurich, Lucerne and Engelberg, his path led him to the 5-star Bürgenstock Resort, where he faithfully plied his craft for 32 years. As chef de cuisine in the Bürgenstock restaurant “Le Club”, he was ultimately awarded 17 GaultMillau points and a Michelin star.
From 2007 to 2012, Corina and Armin Amrein were managers of the Relais & Châteaux Hotel Walserhof in Klosters, which numbers the British royal family among its illustrious guests. Winter season 2012 saw Armin Amrein’s debut as chef de cuisine and host in Amrein's Seehofstübli in Davos, where he remained until spring 2015. The star chef now spoils his guests with his exceptional creations at his very own restaurant, "Glow by Armin Amrein".
Awards: 17 GaultMillau points / 1 Michelin Star
Michelin Starred Chef
About Pascal Aussignac & Club Gascon
Chef Pascal Aussignac hails from Toulouse in the South West of France, where foie gras, duck, fine charcuterie, cassoulet, good wines and Armagnac are the order of the day. He trained with French master Chefs like Gerard Vie, Alain Dutournier and Guy Savoy. His love of food and attention to detail has been delighting foodies & critics in London since 1998.
Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur, he cooks in and oversees in close collaboration with his business partner Vincent Labeyrie seven award-winning restaurants in London, all of them with a slightly different culinary theme but celebrating the food of France and of his beloved homeland of Gascony.
Their flagship restaurant, Club Gascon, was awarded a Michelin Star in 2002 that it has kept since. In 2007 it was awarded the ultimate peer group accolade of Restaurant of the Year by Caterer Magazine.
Over the years, Pascal Aussignac and Vincent Labeyrie opened 7 other affiliate artisan restaurants:
- in Smithfield:
Club Gascon – Michelin-starred restaurant
Cellar Gascon - specialist wine bar
Comptoir Gascon – bistro and Official Embassy of Cassoulet in the UK
- Le Cercle in Chelsea
- in Chancery Lane: Cigalon and Baranis dedicated to Provençal and Corsican cuisine
- Chip + Fish in Westfield London, Stratford City & Trinity Food Court Leeds.
In 2008, He wrote his first recipe book: "Cuisinier Gascon" awarded Best French Cookbook by “Gourmand Award”.
Well respected in the industry, Pascal has kept his dedication to the cuisine he loves and passion: he still cooks at Club Gascon every day, looks after the floral arrangement in all his restaurants, and keeps surprising the London foodie scene.
In 2015 Pascal and Vincent launched a new venture Duck’N Roll for the Street Feast group at Hawker House trading over 5 weekends and scheduled for a permanent site throughout the summer of 2015 in Shoreditch.
1967 Born in Toulouse, France
1982 Lycée hôtelier of Bordeaux-Talence
1985 First wage as commis for Gérard Vié at ‘Trois Marches’
1989 At 25 year old already knows that he wants to open his restaurant
1998 Opening of Club Gascon in London
2002 First Michelin star
2009 Publication of his first book Cuisinier Gascon
2013 2013 Restaurant Chef of the Year award at the Craft Guild of Chef Award
Club Gascon (1998)
57 West Smithfield
020 7600 6144
Opened its door in September 1998 in a former Lyons Tea House, Club Gascon is situated between Saint Bartholomew Church (one of the oldest churches in London) and the famous Smithfield Meat Market.
Low-key, sophisticated and consistently rated as one of London’s best restaurants, this Michelin-starred restaurant is an intimate and chic venue with marble walls, wooden floors, big mirrors and olive-green banquettes.
Specialised in imaginative cuisine from the South West of France, it offers a menu of mouth-watering selections. Chef Pascal Aussignac's talent with seasonal produce, and his ability to bring ingredients together, show in every dish.
The menu is designed with the intention of tasting different flavours by sampling arrange of smaller plates. As such guests are invited to choose 3 or 4 delicacies among the 5 different sections of the à la carte menu or to choose Le Marché, a popular 5 course tasting menu based around the best in seasonal produce.
The sections from the à la carte are as follows:
• La Route du Sel – This section is named after an ancient French salt route from the Mediterranean coast to the province of Rouergue, just north of Toulouse. All these dishes feature salted or cured ingredients - including marinated foods and smoked fish or meat
• Le Potager – A ‘potager’ is a vegetable garden and this section is full of delicious, vegetarian dishes
• Les Foies Gras – These are Club Gascon’s speciality. Nowhere else in the UK offers such a range of these exquisite goose and duck liver terrines that manage to be rich, buttery, and delicate all at once
• L’Oceane – These delectable seafood dishes showcase the finest offerings from the southern French Atlantic coast and little-known local cookery techniques
• Les Paturages –Superlative meat and game, for the bountiful forests of Landes are packed full of wild birds and deer
All the ingredients are seasonal, of superlative quality and are sourced from small artisan producers from the South West France. Club Gascon is monitored by ‘Le Comité Renaissance’ which has a commitment to maintaining the highest standards of freshness and authenticity.
Club Gascon’s wine cellar similarly takes diners on a journey across South West France with numerous exclusive specially-imported wines and spirits.
The wine list is mainly from the Southwest, Languedoc Roussillon and Bordeaux areas. There is no wine from Burgundy or the new world.
2014 Best in Taste Award – Taste of London ‘Croque Gascon’
2014 3 AA Rosettes (published September 2013)
2013 Restaurant Chef of the Year award at the Craft Guild of Chef Award
Tatler Magazine - Test of Time
Trophées des francais de l'étranger - Lauréat catégorie Art de Vivre
2012 Best in Taste Award – Taste of London ‘Marmite Royale’
2011 Best in Taste Award – Taste of London ‘Foie Gras Burger & Summer Truffle’
2008 Gastronomades France - Best French touch
2007 Catey Awards - Independent Restaurateur of the Year
2007 Francais of the year - Meilleur Chef-Pascal Aussignac
2005 Hotel & Restaurant Awards - Best French Restaurant
2004 Tio Pepe ITV London Restaurant - The Outstanding London Chef of the Year
2003 Harpers & Moët Restaurant Award - Best Restaurant in London
2002 Michelin Guide - One Star (Since 2002)
2000 Good Food Guide - Restaurant of the Year
2000 AA Guide - Restaurant of the Year
2000 Hotel & Restaurant Awards - Best French Restaurant
2000 Decanter - Newcomer of the Year
1999 Time Out Eating & Drinking Awards - Best New Restaurant
1999 Caterer & Hotelkeeper Catey Awards - Best New Restaurant
Consultant Chef/Founding Partner
Biography Joe Barza
Master Chef Joe Barza has over 25 years of experience and has helped raise the profile of the Middle Eastern Cuisine and Chefs. He is known as the rebel chef who revived the Lebanese cuisine that has been stagnant for many years by combining local ingredients in unconventional ways in order to create new trend setting revolutionary dishes that have become his trademarks. Chef Barza has earned award after award in international culinary forums where he has represented his country with pride and honor. In addition to being Founder and Chef Consultant of Joe Barza Culinary Consultancy, he is a member of the Academie Culinaire de France, The President of the Lebanese Chefs Association and on the organizing committee of the Lebanese Salon Culinaire HORECA. The consultant of GET GROUP in Qatar, Waldorf Astoria in Ras Al Khaimah, Hilton in Jordan, as well as many more. Chef Barza has participated and hosted a number of TV shows and programs.
We shouldn't forget to mention that he took part in many International events such as, Le Festival de Mougins, Slow Food in Terra Madre, Six Senses in Maldives, Dubai World Hospitality Championship, CIA in California, La Route des Etoiles in Portugal, Sydney International Food Festival and many more...
Chef Joe Barza has traveled across the world working hand by hand with some of the biggest names in Culinary Arts such as Frederic Anton, Gerald Passedat, David Higgs, Guillaume Gomez, ...
Matthias Tesi Baur
Portfolio Director Food at UBM
I first discovered my passion for good food through travelling. I love discovering new food from countries around the world – although, coming from Germany, my national cuisine does still hold a place in my heart! I love to eat venison with fresh mushrooms in Bavaria or slow cooked “Kassler” – a delicatessen from middle Germany.
My passion for good food and dining began when I was in Zurich for the first time and I was impressed by the level of service the restaurants offered. I will never forget how the owner of a good restaurant we stepped into in Switzerland suggested that as we weren’t locals we should cross the street to go to another restaurant because they just had freshly delivered fish, try that first and then come to his restaurant tomorrow, which, of course, we did! By the time we stepped into the other restaurant he had already called the owner of the other restaurant who welcomed us by describing the fish on offer and offering us his best table. I had never experienced such a customer centred approach and I had one of the best dining experiences of my life.
So, what does Gourmet mean to me?
In my opinion, it comes to down the atmosphere, the service, the food and the people.
I love places that have a really unique atmosphere. For example, a while ago I discovered a very small side street in Beijing that had a number of very old Japanese restaurants. It was the type of street I would never have walked down myself if my Chinese colleague hadn’t taken me there. Yet, the restaurant we went to offered traditional Japanese cooking as it was served 100 years ago in simple surroundings with incredible honesty. I was probably one of the first Westerners to enter the restaurant in a long time!
When it comes to service I have to admit that I can be quite specific! My wife always laughs at me when I want to have a chat with the owner or the chef. Like everyone else, I love to be treated as if I’m a special guest: have the owner recognise me, be placed at one of the best tables, and be offered a bottle of wine not on the menu. Not too long ago I watched a BBC program on the Claridges Hotel in London where the manager said “good service is about creating one absolutely unique moment that the guest will always remember and that is what makes them come back”. I think that hits the nail on the head of what good service is about.
Whilst I love experiential cuisine, I’m a big fan of simple and honest food.
And, finally, it is the people. It sounds obvious, but even with the best food, outstanding service and the most unique place, I don’t think it could be a truly gourmet evening if the company were not right. A friend of mine once said “food is about sharing” and I think this is it! Good food needs to be enjoyed with friends and family!
Matthias Tesi Baur
3 Michelin Starred Chef
Nowadays, Heinz Beck is known as one of the most notable "Masters" of gastronomy in the world. His unique interpretation of the "Modern" kitchen goes beyond his undisputed culinary talent, but includes the utmost attention toward the selection of ingredients and their transformation into highly innovative flavors.
Heinz Beck's Restaurants around the World
"La Pergola" – Rome *** Michelin since November 2005
Michelin Starred Chef
Holger Bodendorf, 1967 in Heiligenhafen geboren, hat seine beruflichen Stationen konsequent geplant und umgesetzt.
Nach der Ausbildung mit Auszeichnung, im Hotel Yachtclub am Timmendorfer Strand, folgten namhafte Häuser wie das Hotel Atlantic Kempinski und das Landhaus Scherrer in Hamburg, Petermann’ s Kunststuben in Zürich und Da Gianni in Mannheim.
Auf Sylt begeisterte er in Tappe’ s Restaurant und im Restaurant Veneto im Hotel Windrose, wo er sich im Jahr 2000 den ersten Michelin Stern erarbeitete.
Seit 2001 leitet er das 5-Sterne-Plus-Hotel Landhaus Stricker auf Sylt. Die beiden Restaurants des Hauses, das „siebzehn84“ und das weit über die deutschen Grenzen bekannte Gourmetrestaurant Bodendorf’s, wer- den mit seinem Anspruch an Genuss geführt.
Die Besonderheit seiner Arbeit zeigt sich auch seit 2011 über die Auszeichnung des Hotels mit der Lilie und die damit verbundene Aufnahme als Familienmitglied von Relais & Châteaux.
Ausgezeichnet mit einem Michelin Stern und 18 Punkten im Gault Millau ist er als einer der weltweit besten Köche seit 2012 Relais & Châteaux-Grand Chef.
Founder & President of Club des Chefs des Chefs
In the early stages of my career, I was in the textile business, where I managed Bragard, a company, which manufactures chef's uniforms. Many of my customers where chefs of Presidents and other influential politicians. One chef especially, the White House's chef was a good friend; together, we developed the idea of organising a special dinner and only for head chefs, of leaders of government. The dinner was an enormous success and the idea for 'Club des Chefs des Chefs' was born. We quickly grew to eight members and the need to give the club a structure became a necessity. The members asked me to become the inaugural president; that was in 1977, in 1980 we received an invitation by the king of Sweden and suddenly became much better recognised. Today we have 23 members and this is a wonderful achievement, enabling us to support charities and other worthwhile projects. We are a not-for-profit organisation and our code of ethics is of paramount importance to us.