“The Roux Family is a huge inspiration. They have always been there for me throughout my career to offer guidance when I've needed it. ”
Tom won the Roux Scholarship in 2014 at the age of 25. He trained at Restaurant Hof Van Cleve, Belgium.
Tom's current position is executive head chef at L’Enclume and Rogan & Co, in Cumbria.
Born in Barrow-in-Furness, Tom decided he wanted to be a chef around age 14 when he started cooking with his Grandma. He started his career as an apprentice at the Lakeside Hotel near Windermere, where he worked under Duncan Collinge who had in turn worked with the Roux Brothers at Le Gavroche and taught Tom the basics of classic cooking, such as how to use a knife, making stocks, sauces, and butchery. After three years, and rising the position of chef de partie, Tom moved to then two-star-Michelin restaurant The Vineyard at Stockcross, working under John Campbell for the next two and a half years, starting as a commis and working up to chef de partie, running all the different sections in the kitchen. Tom then took a role at The Square, working under Phil Howard.
Returning to his home county Cumbria, he joined the kitchen at Simon Rogan’s two-star Michelin L’Enclume and was promoted to head chef shortly after returning from his Roux Scholarship stage in Belgium.
In the summer of 2017, after six and a half years at L’Enclume, Tom moved to Copenhagen as chef de partie at restaurant Geranium under acclaimed chef Rasmus Kofoed. The move fulfilled his ambition to work at a three-Michelin-starred restaurant abroad. He then returned to Cartmel in January 2018 to work for Simon Rogan again at Rogan & Co as head chef, being promoted to executive head chef of L’Enclume and Rogan and Co in late 2019. For the Michelin Guide 2019, Rogan & Co earned its first Michelin star. Tom took part in the 2020 BBC TV series of the Great British Menu and his dish of Herdwick lamb, inspired by the children’s book ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ was chosen as the winning main course and served at the final banquet.
Where did you do your stage?
Hof Van Cleve, Belgium. I had wanted to go there for years and without the Roux Scholarship it wouldn’t have been possible. It was a brilliant experience. Chef Peter Goossens was in the kitchen every day, tasting everything, the presentation when the food goes out is like a work of art.
What did you cook in the final?
Chartreuse of quail and sweetbreads with grape sauce.
How many times did you enter?
I entered the competition twice, the second time round I had more of an idea how the competition works, and I was able to learn from the mistakes I made the year earlier and was lucky enough to pull everything together on the day.
What do you remember most about the competition the year you won?
I’ll never forget the feeling of having my name called out as the winner. I was completely overwhelmed and the result came as a bit of a shock, but I was absolutely delighted. It was the proudest moment of my career!
What advice would you give applicants?
Make sure your online entry is perfect: it should look professional and stand out to the judges, and make sure you have costed out your recipe properly. If you make it to the regionals then practice, practice, practice! If you do plenty of run-throughs, you will feel calm and confident on the day of the regionals and you’ll have a good chance to make it to the finals.
Who are your culinary heroes?
My culinary heroes are my current boss, Simon Rogan, who has taught me so much over the years and given me so many opportunities, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without him. Also the Roux family are huge inspirations to me. They have always been there for me throughout my career to offered guidance when I've needed it. They are extremely generous. When I was a bit lost in my career I contacted the family and Michel Snr and Alain invited me to The Waterside, put me up for a couple of days and we had a long chat and they gave me so much great advice which I took. When I left, Chef Alain gave me a goody bag of chocolates, biscuits and honey to take back to my family. They treated me like a member of the family and I will always be grateful to them for everything.
Tell us about your career highlights?
My two other career highlights, outside of winning the Roux Scholarship, were when we won the Michelin star at Rogan and Co. Simon offered me the chance to run the kitchen and Chef Michel and Chef Alain told me I should definitely do it. We were a small team of just four chefs and six months later we were awarded a star. The other highlight was getting my main course to the banquet on Great British Menu. I started watching the show when I was an apprentice so to get a dish through was a huge achievement for me.