Chef Owner, Kitchin Group (The Kitchin, The Scran & Scallie, The Bonnie Badger and KORA by Tom Kitchin.)
- What was your favourite subject at school?
I didn’t really enjoy school as a kid. The only subjects I really enjoyed were sport and home economics. I sometimes wish I had worked harder at school but at the time it just didn’t appeal to me.
- What was your first job?
As a young teenager I worked as a strawberry picker in the school holidays, and then packing broccoli on a local farm. I soon found a job in our local pub where I started out washing pots and pans. I immediately loved the kitchen buzz during service and the excitement of being part of a team. I knew then that I wanted to be a chef. I was 13.
- Which is your favourite restaurant /hotel?
Le Louis XV – Alain Ducasse à l’Hôtel de Paris in Monte-Carlo. Before opening our restaurant in Edinburgh I spent 2 years working at this 3-star Michelin restaurant. For a young Scots lad, it was an unbelievable experience to be part of. It was incredibly hard work, but I felt honoured to be working there and I learnt a lot – especially about respecting the local produce, which is something I am incredibly passionate about in my own restaurants today. A meal at Le Louis XV is a truly incredible experience in every sense – they proudly display the beautiful ingredients of the region in spectacular surroundings.
- How do you inspire your team?
It’s incredibly important to us that our teams are inspired and motivated and enjoy coming to work every day. Inspiration is everywhere – we get to work with this glorious produce that Scotland has to offer, meet the most knowledgeable suppliers and welcome guests from all over the world – we make sure the entire team gets the chance to experience all of this and continue to learn.
Many of our team have been with us for several years and we have a lot of seasonal staff returning year after year. We’ve really invested in training and aim to give people opportunities to grow and progress with us and indeed across our group of four venues. We invest a lot in training that works for every individual and that includes training and inspiration from our incredibly knowledgeable management team, our fantastic suppliers as well as external training – from practical training to mental health coaching – from a number of the local colleges.
We also encourage our team to share their own ideas, inspiration and learning with one another too, which I think is incredibly important.
- Which person in hospitality have you most admired / inspired you?
Pierre Koffmann has been a great mentor and friend. I started out working with the great Chef Koffmann at restaurant La Tante Claire in London at a young age. From the start, Koffmann inspired me like no other and to this day he has never failed to impress and indeed support me. What I really admire about him is how he would always cook from the heart. Chef was really the one who guided me, pushed me and really took me to the next level in my cooking. He is still to this day showing interest in our restaurant and I speak to him regularly.
- How do you manage your stress levels?
The industry can be intense, so it’s important for me to make sure I fit in my exercise. Keeping fit is a way of life for me. I always try to lead by example for the team and make sure I carve out time for my family – my wife Michaela and my four boys.
I’ve always been passionate about football too, and on Sundays I now help to coach a youth team with Spartans FC. I love to inspire youth talent and see the kids improve and do well and I never tire of talking all things football.
- Instagram, Twitter or Facebook – and why?
I prefer Instagram as it is visually led and much more focused on story telling through imagery, especially when it comes to food.
- If you had not gone into hospitality, where do you think you would be now?
I always wanted to be a footballer when I was growing up.
- What did you do on your last days off?
There isn’t so much time off at the moment with four very active boys who all have a mad passion for football. My wife and I usually spend our days off at the side of a football pitch at the moment and that has been the case since the football picked up again after summer. It’s a busy period just now because of the ages of the boys, but we wouldn’t want to change it for the world.
- What do you do to relax, to support your wellbeing?
I love going to the gym in the morning before I head to the restaurant. It gives me real focus. I try to go 4 to 5 times a week if I can. I feel really good for it and it helps me plan my day and gives me thinking time. I also love taking the dogs out for a walk and getting some fresh air every day. Seeing the seasons change always gives me a boost.