Chef of the Week: Tom Booton – Head Chef, Alyn Williams at The Westbury in London
How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I’ve been back at The Westbury for nearly 2 years. I worked here for a year in 2013, left and came back.
Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I fell into the trade from work experience at school. I started off at Le Talbooth in Essex and was taught by Ian Rhodes for 4 and a half years, it was a great start and training for my career.
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
I really enjoy the hard work and the buzz, team work is very important to me. I love the boys and girls I work with and my main job is top keep us tight and push forward together to make every day better than the last.
Being creative is also very enjoyable we come up with a lot of new dishes.
Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Maldon salt, butter and my team.
Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Relaxed fine dining.
What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Throwing the towel in too early, try and stay with a chef for min 2 years. Learn everything from what that kitchen can teach you, then move on – you’ll get a lot more respect. Learn the good bits and it’s also important to learn some bad things because one day you will know what not to do!
What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
All of the year, every part of the year has great ingredients around! There isn’t a bad time.
Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
We did a lobster dish this year, very simple, very clean but it’s a beautiful dish and people love it. To be honest you can’t go wrong with lobster and caviar!! Let the ingredients do the talking.
How do you come up with new dishes?
I’m always looking for inspiration, sometimes ideas pop in my head. I’m always here on a Monday when we are shut testing new stuff out and organising my life! Some of my boys have ideas so we work together to make it happen, 10 heads is better than one!
Who was your greatest influence?
My parents are very hard working people I think that always rubs of on the children.
Tell us three chefs you admire
Alyn Williams of course, he has given me a great opportunity being his Head Chef.
Pierre Koffmann, he has archived what most chefs dream of, and he is still pushing on today! At the age of 70, we should all admire and respect that!
Tim Hollingsworth, I cooked with him in 2017 at Chefstock he was a very cool guy. I admired that he did many years with Thomas Keller working at the top level, but I know he cooks double tasty food.
What is your favourite cookbook?
North from a restaurant called Dill in Iceland. Andy Mcfadden sent me there in 2014 when I was his Sous Chef at L’autre Pied, I had a great time!
Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Josh Angus and Luke Selby both smashing it at Hide, they’re definitely the boys to watch for the future.
Graham Long is a great friend of my and his restaurant will open next year so keep a eye out!
Charlie Tayler, my Sous Chef and great friend.
What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Smoking Goat is always a favourite in our kitchen here at the Westbury! I’m going to Core by Clare Smyth in January, so I reckon that will top it, I cant wait!