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              Meet Tom Birks
              Cuisine Master Chef

              Cuisine Chef Tom Birks - le cordon bleu london

              Chef Tom decided to pursue a passion for cooking and started his career as a chef on the Isle of Wight. In 1997, he moved to London at the Charing Cross Hotel and then to the Millennium Gloucester Hotel London Kensington. His career took him to the renowned Burford Bridge Hotel, Surrey before heading the kitchen brigade of The Bush Hotel, also in Surrey.

              In 2004, Chef Tom become the Executive Chef at the flagship 5 star Randolph Hotel in Oxfordshire where he developed and led a team of chefs who earned the restaurant numerous awards. He also regularly hosted dinners for the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, an international association of gastronomy.

              Chef Tom joined Le Cordon Bleu’s team of cuisine teaching chefs in 2012.

              What made you want to become a chef and then a teaching chef?
              Teaching has been a part of my role for years. Coming from the role of head chef I enjoyed training staff and watching them develop. It all happened in natural steps, but I’ve always looked to pass on my culinary knowledge and cookery skills.

              Why is Le Cordon Bleu so unique to you?
              It is the blend of excellence, our chefs and our state-of-the-art facilities. I’ve seen many hotel kitchens, and some of them are not so great, Le Cordon Bleu kitchens are gleaming and always pristine.

              What is your earliest food memory?
              Beans on toast with HP sauce! It was my signature dish at university


              I’ve always looked to pass on my culinary knowledge and cookery skills

              What is your favourite ingredient to work with?
              I think it would have to be secondary cuts of meat. For example shoulders, shins and cheeks. I know they are less fashionable, but I think they are a bit more interesting. You can braise or cook them slowly, but they are great fun to experiment with.

              Can you explain to us what an average day at the 5* Randolph Hotel was like?
              It was normally always a 7am start. I would check in with the breakfast service and then I would see that the chef was okay. Once I had done that I would focus my attention on checking that the delivery had arrived and that the invoices were filed correctly. It would then be my responsibility to conduct the manager and chef briefing before liaising with the Sous Chef to see what we had on that day. Places like the Randolph have a particularly fast pace not only because of how good the service needs to be, but because it is all day service, so from lunch it continues on to afternoon tea. The afternoon marks the start of the late team, so I will greet them just as I do the breakfast team, before completing all emails and office tasks – which I tried to have done by 4:30-5:00pm so that I could help out in the kitchen. All the way through my career I remained hands on, try to assist in food production and plating up. Even though it is extremely tough, the best thing about working in this environment though is varied the work is and there is always a challenge, two days were never the same and that was what I loved.

               

              What was your last meal out?
              It was at Chez Leon in Brussels last weekend; I had the very traditional steak, frites and mussels.

              Do you have a favourite kitchen gadget?
              I recently got a juicer and I think it’s great. I’m currently trying out lots of different varieties of drinks.

              Do you have a favourite cookery book?
              I have a lot of cook books. But one that sticks out in my mind is one that was quite influential to me at the start of my career, and that was Rick Stein’s A Taste of the Sea.

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