Scotland’s youngest ever Michelin star chef took time out from getting his restaurant ready for reopening post lockdown, to talk to Wiltshire College & University Centre catering students.
Tom Kitchin joined Level 2 and 3 students from the Salisbury and Trowbridge campuses virtually via a Teams call to chat about his successful career as well as the difficulties and challenges faced for those in the catering and hospitality sector throughout the pandemic. He also talked about the excitement and eagerness to reopen his restaurant, The Kitchin, today (Tuesday 27th April), after lockdown restrictions were eased in Scotland yesterday.
Tom runs the restaurant, which is situated on Edinburgh’s Leigh waterfront, with his wife Michaela, and its philosophy ‘from nature to plate’ is all about seasonal cooking using the best quality ingredients from Scotland’s natural larder.
Steve Lloyd, Deputy Head of Department for Catering, said: “It was a privilege to have Tom join us especially as he was gearing up to reopen his restaurant.
“The students found it really insightful and really enjoyed listening to what he had to say, before then having the chance to ask him their own questions.”
Tom discovered his passion for the kitchen when he took a job after leaving school washing dishes.
“It was the excitement and adrenalin of working in a professional kitchen that made me fall in love with cooking,” he said.
He then went to study cookery at Perth College and began his career at the prestigious Gleneagles Hotel before going on to work for some of the most renowned chefs and restaurants in the world. This included Pierre Koffman and the 3-star La Tante Claire restaurant in London, where Tom said he realised very quickly he needed to knuckle down, the 3-star Michelin restaurant Guy Savoy in Paris and the 3-star Michelin Le Louis XV restaurant in Monte Carlo.
He said: “I remember going to London thinking I was a hot shot. Within five minutes I realised I wasn’t!
“One of my first jobs working for Pierre Koffman was to get in the kitchen before anyone else and het hold of the pots and pans for my sous chef before anyone else. You needed to have the very best and once you’ve set the standard early on, it always stays with you.”
When Tom and Michaela opened the The Kitchin 15 years ago, they had a second-hand fridge and borrowed pots and pan, however it quickly became known as one of the finest places to eat in the country, and Tom said he still loves every single day, and can’t wait to open back up to the public.
He said: “Covid has been really challenging for us all, and I’m sure it has for you as students as well.
“I’m really looking forward to the reopening though even though we currently will have to close at 8pm and no alcohol is permitted, and we’ll be serving up some of our favourite dishes which are in season.”
Level 2 Professional Cookery student Zoe Eells from Salisbury said: “I really did enjoy the talk and it gave me a really good insight into what it takes to become a successful chef.”
Aleyah Miller, from the Trowbridge campus, is also studying the Level 2 one-year-course and said: “I would like to start my own business, but have some doubts and concerns.
“Tom said to go for it and to just keep going even if people turn you down, sharing his own business story. His comments made me feel much stronger and more confident about my goals.”
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