Meet the chef: Tom Booton at The Grill at The Dorchester
Tom Booton tells us about his cheffing journey so far
Appointed head chef of The Grill at The Dorchester in 2019 at just 26 years old, Tom Booton has achieved a lot in his career so far – most recently having been awarded 3-Rosette status at the AA Hospitality Awards 2021.
We spoke to Booton about influences, inspiration and his favourite flavours.
Tell us a little about the journey that has led you to where you are today
TB: I was sent to Le Talbooth, which is in my hometown of Colchester, on work experience at the age of 15. From the moment I stepped through the doors I fell in love with the bustle of the kitchen. After five years at Le Talbooth, I moved to London in 2013 and worked for Alyn Williams at The Westbury before moving to L'Autre Pied under Andy McFadden.
After two years in London I left to go travelling and worked in restaurants in New York, Copenhagen and Iceland, which was a particular highlight for me. It's so important to experience how other cultures celebrate food and champion different types of produce.
I came back to the UK in 2016 to work for Ollie Dabbous as sous chef before moving back to Alyn Williams as head chef. While I was there, the hotel manager of The Dorchester came in for dinner and asked to meet the chef. That led to me taking over The Grill as head chef – the rest is history!
What are your plans for the future – which new areas would you like to expand into?
TB: My aim is to continue to elevate the experience of The Grill. We just reopened our Pudding Bar and plan to collaborate more with that experience. Watch this space...
What are the vital ingredients for a successful kitchen?
TB: The team. A restaurant is only ever as good as the team that run it – you need to be fully trusting in the talents of the team you build around you.
What are your favourite ingredients to work with?
TB: I'm a big fan of mushrooms; they're extremely versatile and I love the flavour. You can't beat a button mushroom.
What's your favourite dish on the current menu and why?
TB: At the moment I would probably say our Cornish turbot with borlotti beans and grelot onion, which has beautifully classic flavours working together to create a really tasty dish.
Who are the chefs you admire the most? Who has had the most influence on your cooking style?
TB: Alyn Williams was massive for the early stages of my career. I also really admire Jason Atherton and what he has done with his business. He must never sleep!
What are the best places you've eaten in recently?
TB: I recently went to Ikoyi Restaurant in St. James's, which was incredible. As a chef I couldn't figure out how they made some of the dishes, which was so exciting.
What's your favourite food when away from work?
TB: A family-size bag of Minstrels is my guilty pleasure, which I don't actually feel guilty about! On my days off I sometimes go to The Royal Oak in Marylebone for a pint of Fabal with some friends.
An edited version of this interview first appeared in the AA Restaurant Guide 2022.
Find out more about The Grill at the Dorchester.