Meet the chef: Tom Clarke

Head chef at Michelin-starred L’Ortolan in Berkshire, Tom shares his love of French cuisine and nominates his culinary heroes

Did you always dream about becoming a chef?
I’ve always been interested in food so after doing work experience in a kitchen I knew that cheffing was the path to take.

Working at Le Manoir with Raymond Blanc must have been an experience, is that where you get your love of French cuisine?
It definitely consolidated my love of French food but I mainly took away his passion, respect for the produce and attention to detail.

Tell us a little more about your restaurant
Originally a vicarage, the grade II listed building is now a fine dining restaurant seating 50 guests with a bar and private dining rooms. The restaurant has enjoyed a prestigious lineage of award-winning chefs since opening in the late Seventies. The restaurant has held a Michelin star for 17 years so I’m delighted to be at the helm!

What type of food are you serving?
Modern French food with influences from around the world. I love to push the boundaries of French fine dining by introducing modern techniques and exotics flavours onto the plate.

Signature dish?
Goose liver parfait, coconut and mango

Favourite ingredient?
This is a hard one as each season brings so many exciting things but I do love this time of year as we start getting English asparagus and wild garlic at the restaurant.

Gadget you can’t live without?
My Thermomix. It’s so powerful and useful it’s like having another chef in the kitchen!

Your culinary heroes?
Raymond Blanc and Gary Jones, it was such an honour to be part of their brigade at Le Manoir. Also I have huge respect for Alan Muchison who I succeeded at L’Ortolan.

Words of wisdom to your younger self?
Stay focused, work hard and push yourself a little more each day

Kitchen soundtrack?
Du hast from Rammstein to get the team pumped before a busy service

Favourite restaurant(s)?
Le Manoir and Midsummer House in Cambridge

Plans for the future?
To keep getting better and better at L’Ortolan and one day like many people I dream of having my own restaurant too.

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