Chef of the Week: Thomas Leatherbarrow – Culinary Director at TLC Gourmet

TLC Gourmet

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
2 years.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
From my family at a young age and the surroundings I grew up in. I studied at The Colchester Institute and CIA.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The freedom and world to be explored, the fact you can create so much from so little and influence so many through so few.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Vinegar, sugar and butter.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Raw foods are becoming more popular, global influence from cuisines are playing roles in dish collaboration and chef creativity. Combining extravagant flavour (within reason) that normally you would hesitate with. Classic techniques are reappearing in menus across establishments as oppose to molecular gastronomy and modernist cuisine.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
They loose track and focus from the real basic arts and become consumed by a world of celebrity and social recognition.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Autumn is my favourite time of year at the end of the three season harvest, wild ingredients are at their best and so readily available for creative dishes and unique flavours.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
Dish that showcase in my opinion the heart of my passion and what I have experienced through food and travel, in the way it has influence on those around me and customers.

How do you come up with new dishes?
Reading books, trial and error, taking flavour profiling to another a level to be unique something that is out of the circle that is not necessarily a trend.

Who was your greatest influence?
I have been fortunate to work with so many influential chefs so far in my career and I feel as though I have taken characteristic and aspect from their teaching and found my own quantification of how to apply these into my works.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Tom Booton, Jason Atherton and Matt Moran.

What is your favourite cookbook?
I have a library of cookbooks and food related literature so to pick one is very hard, but one I never go anywhere without is my flavour thesaurus.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Tom Booton, Olivia Burt and Craig Johnston.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Endo at the Rotunda.