Cateys 2020: Chef Award – Tom Kitchin

22 November 2020
Cateys 2020: Chef Award – Tom Kitchin

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Tom Kitchin has carefully built up a collection comprising the flagship Kitchin restaurant and Scran & Scallie pub in Edinburgh, as well as the Southside Scran bistro and Bonnie Badger pub, restaurant and rooms, both in Gullane.

The chef trained at Gleneagles hotel in Auchterarder, near where he grew up in Kinross. From there he went on to work for some of Europe's biggest names in restaurants, including Pierre Koffmann at his three-Michelin-starred restaurant La Tante Claire in London, Guy Savoy at his three-Michelin-starred Paris restaurant and at Alain Ducasse's Le Louis XV in Monte Carlo.

Kitchin himself picked up a Michelin star just seven months after opening his eponymous restaurant in June 2006. He was aged only 29 and remains the youngest chef to achieve the accolade, which the restaurant has held ever since. A Newcomer Award at the Cateys in 2008 followed.

Kitchin celebrates seasonal Scottish produce across his portfolio of businesses and follows a "nature to plate" philosophy, using the best of what the country has to offer. All butchering and filleting is done in-house daily and Highland game is a particular speciality of the chef.

In its assessment Michelin stated: "Tom is a passionate ambassador for all things Scottish and this, combined with his nature-to-plate philosophy and classical French training, results in dishes that hit the mark every time."

The Bonnie Badger, one of the most recent additions to the group, launched in 2018. It comprises 13 individually designed en suite bedrooms, a pub, garden room and a private dining space. The Sunday Times' Marina O'Loughlin said: "There isn't an element here that's been left to chance: they've thought of everything. And that, in itself, is remarkable."

It has not all been plain sailing, however, and this year has seen the permanent closure of the Castle Terrace in Edinburgh, which Kitchin had opened with Dominic Jack in 2010, after the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic left it "no longer financially viable".

Away from his restaurants, Kitchin makes regular television appearances to promote Scottish produce, as well as working with Edinburgh charity the Citadel Youth Centre, to host a series of masterclasses for young people.

The judges praised Kitchin for his hands-on approach, his work with his teams and the wider community, as well as his promotion of Scotland.

What the judges said

"I admire how Tom has built a fantastic collection of modest businesses, all within close proximity of each other. He is able to be hands-on in all of them, enabling him to maintain the great quality and brilliant reputations they all have.

"Tom is an all-rounder, who undertakes charity work and television, and supports his local suppliers. He really promotes the great and good of Scottish producers, but also encompasses the whole of Great Britain. There's no question that for me, Tom is a truly worthy winner." – Paul Ainsworth

"Tom is one of the most incredible, driven and passionate chefs you will come across, powered by flavour and technique with an exceptional belief in his team and produce. A wonderful family man who is driving his business forward like Braveheart." – Tom Kerridge

"Not only is he a great chef but he is also a smart businessman, a champion of Scottish produce and a great leader." – Clare Smyth

The shortlist

  • Mark Birchall, Moor Hall, Lancashire
  • Adam Byatt, Trinity, Upstairs and Bistro Union, London
  • Margot Henderson, Rochelle Canteen and Arnold & Henderson, London
  • Tom Kitchin, Kitchin Group, Edinburgh

The judges

  • Paul Ainsworth, chef-patron, Paul Ainsworth at Number 6, Padstow, Cornwall
  • Amanda Afiya, co-founder, Sauce Intelligence
  • Jason Atherton, founder, the Social Company,
  • Sat Bains, chef-patron, Restaurant Sat Bains, Nottingham
  • Claude Bosi, chef-patron, Claude Bosi at Bibendum, London
  • Giovanna Grossi, consultant, Sauce Intelligence
  • Angela Harnett, chef-patron, Murano and Café Murano, London
  • Tom Kerridge, chef-patron, the Hand & Flowers, Marlow, Buckinghamshire
  • Clare Smyth, chef-patron, Core by Clare Smyth, London
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