INTRODUCING TOM KERRIDGE: THE MASTER OF REINVENTION
Q: Throughout your career you’ve always done things a little differently. Where do you get your pioneering spirit from?
A: I like very much to look at the simple things, where as a lot of creatives in the food industry try to create something new. I’m actually very driven to recreate, embrace or just improve the simple classics of hospitality. Classic dishes have been around for a long time because people like them. If you can improve, or just edge them forward so they still maintain relevance that is a key focus for my drive. Maybe in a world of innovation, ‘old fashioned’ is the new creative. Also, just saying hello to people is a big thing – we are very pleased and proud that you, as a guest, have come to visit us. We are the lucky ones; it should never be the other way round.
Q: We heard you use a Lexus at the Hand and Flowers – why did you choose Lexus?
A: The Lexus is not only a fantastic car that is comfortable and environmentally friendly, it works very well with our brand ethos at the Hand and Flowers, which is high-end but at the same time accessible. We give people the opportunity to feel special, just like Lexus.
Q: It’s obvious people love your cooking. But what do you love most about food?
A: I like the journey that food goes on, from start to finish. The processes that farmers and producers use to not only rear cattle but grow carrots or look after strawberries. The knowing what time is right for something to be picked or slaughtered, the care and the transportation, the excitement of the raw ingredient coming into the kitchen – all of these things are amazing. You know a young chef is going to be a great one when they are more excited about the raw ingredient coming through the door than the pretty dish on a plate.
Q: Congratulations on receiving your second Michelin star. How does a pub or restaurant reach Michelin star status?
A: I think the key for us has always been consistency and maintaining our enthusiasm and love for food. I don’t really know the criteria but I know that the food and environment have to feel like they fit. This is the same in all Michelin star restaurants. It is the same in many restaurants that don’t have Michelin stars but where the quality is exceptional. Eating out and food is one of the best things ever. You can have the most fantastic fish and chips take-away sat on a beach in the winter time and it can be one of the most extraordinary experiences. It may be not worthy of a Michelin star but it will be a memory forever.
Q: You’re known as a bit of an innovator. What made you decide to take the pub into the park?
A: It was originally a celebration of the Hand and Flowers’ 10th birthday, but it took us so long to organise, the Hand and Flowers is now 13! It was an exciting way to organise a food festival with all my friends, and drive recognition of the British food scene without the huff and the puff of a posh restaurant. I wanted to make lovely, tasty food accessible in a park – with some great music thrown in.
Q: Professional kitchens are usually high-pressure environments. How do you relax outside of the kitchen?
A: Finding an interest out of work is important, no matter what your job is. For me, I love to go to the gym three to four times a week, as well as swimming. I love spending time with my little boy, too!
Q: And last but not least … which is your proudest achievement: getting a Michelin star or launching Pub in the Park?
A: Pub in the Park is something I am very proud of; it is great fun and around for a few weekends a year. Achieving a Michelin star is a year-old accolade and something that shows how hard the whole team has worked. It’s very close, but it has to be the second star!