Chef of the Week: Tom Westerland, Head Chef at Crockers Henley

What is the name of the restaurant you currently work at, and how long have you been there?
Crockers Henley and I’ve been working here for 8 months.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My passion for cooking came from a love for food, eating mostly. I trained at CAVC (Cardiff and Vale College). I then spent 7 years honing my skills under Michelin-starred chef Hywel Jones at Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
It has to be the team. You will meet your best friends and family for life.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Beef fat, salt and garlic.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
My charcoal grill.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Cooking over charcoal and wood.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Not taking enough time to learn their craft, when you think you’re ready for the next step take a look and keep learning.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
It has to be autumn, it has all the best flavours and textures.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
All of them, my team always work tirelessly to keep pushing our dishes to be the best they can be.

How do you come up with new dishes?
Pen, paper and a good coffee. Keep jotting down ideas and then figure out how to bring them together.

Who was your greatest influence?
My parents, they were always so supportive through my entire career. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Hywel Jones, Gordon Ramsay, Tom Kerridge.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Inspired by Stephen Terry.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
That’s a hard one, I think the entire industry is worth watching right now with all of the changes.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Crockers Henley.