The aim of the series is to provide an insight into the hospitality industry in its broadest sense. It therefore seems apt to start by talking to a chef whose days are spent cooking on the 40th floor of a city skyscraper, with breathtaking views across the London Skyline.
As a chef in a restaurant whose food, whilst being accessible and fun, is also at the top end of the market, I asked Tom where he felt the future of the restaurant industry lies and whether he thought that fine dining was going out of fashion? ‘Street food and sharing styles are more popular than ever, people are spending their money with more caution and don’t always have the time to eat anymore. I think fine dining will always be there though, it just has more competition.’ The occasion of dressing up and going out for a nice dinner is something that will never be lost and there will always be the restaurants there to serve that, but eating cheaper, simpler food, in more relaxed surroundings is not seen in the same way as it once was.
"Food doesn’t have to be expensive to be special"
and the UK seems to have been lagging behind the rest of the world in getting to grips with this concept.
I couldn’t finish without asking Tom about Duck & Waffle’s signature dish, from which the restaurant took its name. ‘It actually comes from one of our sister restaurants in America where it’s one of the owner’s favourite dishes’ Based on the famous combination of Chicken & Waffles, a staple meal in the southern states of the USA, the ‘London’ version sees a crispy duck leg confit served with a fried duck egg, a waffle and a mustard maple syrup. Unsurprisingly, it’s available every hour of the day and night, and customers shouldn’t be deterred from coming in at 3am because, as Tom says,
‘it shouldn’t matter what time you come and eat, you should experience the same thing. We have a great team at Duck & Waffle and they all help achieve this.’
Cooking is a team game and Tom is clearly a team player. It’s extremely heartening to hear from someone who values their employees and colleagues in such a way. If only there were more people like Tom.
Favourite dish to cook at home? Sunday Roast
Kitchen gadget you couldn’t live without? Palette Knife
Desert Island ingredient? Cheese
First food memory? Mum’s Spaghetti meatballs
Favourite restaurant to eat at? Bone Daddies
Guilty pleasure? Twinkies
Read the full interview here: On And Off The Plate