British chef Tom Aikens is a busy man. Between opening his fourth restaurant in London this year and managing two others in Hong Kong and Istanbul, he’s found time to set up an unusual new project in Dubai.
Pots, Pans & Boards will open in the autumn and offer a family-style experience that allows guests to serve themselves at their table.
It’s the latest venture in the 45-year-old’s lengthy career that has seen him publish three cookbooks and become the youngest chef to win two Michelin stars by the age of 26.
He spoke to Reuters about the new restaurant and his favourite dishes on the menu.
Q: Why did you choose Dubai as a location?
A: I think more chefs are going to Dubai in terms of opening up restaurants. The quality of restaurant there is very high and the produce is getting better and better.
Q: How did you come up with the concept?
A: The idea was mainly from childhood memories of having food served out of one pot and sort of tucking into it, served at the table. There’s quite a few dishes that we’re serving that’s coming straight out of a pot or served in a pan, so it just makes it a lot more fun for people to share dishes.
Q: Is there a certain dish diners can look forward to?
A: My favourites are a roast chicken with tarragon for sharing. Then we’re doing a nice veal ragu with pappardelle and we’ve got some nice salads. I did a prawn and grapefruit salad with a grapefruit dressing and toasted sunflower seeds.
Q: You’ve gone international with your restaurants in the past two years. What inspired you to branch out?
A: As a chef, we’re excited about going to new places and seeing new restaurants, new producers and all the different challenges that you face when you open up in another country or another territory. It’s fun. It never gets easier, that’s for sure, but it’s an exciting challenge.
Q: Next year you’ll be celebrating 10 years since you opened your first branch of Tom’s Kitchen that now has four sites in London and another in Istanbul. What lessons have you learned in that time?
A: Always expect the unexpected because every day is a different day and with all the challenges of running a restaurant, the challenges never go away. The good thing is that once you create a brand like Tom’s Kitchen, it’s always evolving and improving.