CHEF TOM MARTIN
Name: Tom Martin
So, how long has the business been running?
Well my first pop-up, Q, was back last Autumn, since then I have held supper clubs in Crafty Devil Cellar in Penarth, Mr Brightsides Café and The Little Man Coffee Company. My next event is in The Potted Pig in Cardiff city centre on Sunday 5th April.
What was your first experience of cooking?
I sometimes cooked with my mother when I was a child, helping to make cakes and breads, that sort of thing. I also enjoyed cooking lessons at school, but I didn’t take that education further and study catering at college.
Who or what inspired you to become a chef?
To be honest after taking my first job in a kitchen out of necessity and needing a job, I think it rekindled a part of me that really liked the idea of cooking professionally. It was the only thing I excelled in. Reading books like White Heat by Marco Pierre White and Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain also cemented my desire to become a chef and allowed me to see into the world of cooking.
Tell us about your training…
I’ve worked in several restaurants around Cardiff, most notably Chapel 1877, Holm House Hotel in Penarth and the Brook Bistro in Whitchurch. I also spent some time working in London, initially working at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, then moving on to cook in various Michelin-starred establishments and independent kitchens.
What was your first job in the industry?
My first position in a kitchen was as a kitchen porter- one chef and myself in a tiny kitchen, having to sort of dance around each other in order to get anything done! It was there I was first given the chance to help out the chef when needed and shown the most basic of dishes and techniques.
Is your cooking influenced by any region or style?
I would describe my food style as quite eclectic, I’m a massive fan of traditional British dishes but you probably wouldn’t see that at face value looking at my food. I try to champion local ingredients, producers and artisans and I think that Welsh produce is some of the best around. I think cooking should be more about using the ingredients from a particular place rather than just copying traditional dishes of that area. Most of all I think food should just be tasty: wherever you take influence from, ultimately it should just be delicious.
If customers had to describe their dining experience with you in only three words what would they be?
I’d hope they’d say something like- tasty, nostalgic, adventurous.
When you come home from work what do you like to cook?
I have very simple eating habits, but I often crave homely foods, such as a beautifully roasted chicken, or a traditional stew with dumplings. But usually after a hard day’s graft I don’t have much time, so something as simple as a ham and cheese sandwich or a bowl of cereal is really satisfying by then!
Any guilty pleasures?
Butter, I use it in pretty much everything I make… and sweets. I’m not a big fan of chocolate or cakes, but sweets? I’m an absolute fiend for!
What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far?
I’ve had several highlights so far… I’ve twice been Runner Up in the Junior Chef of Wales final and I won Foundation Apprentice of the Year for Wales, (across all sectors of business). Winning 1AA Rosette at Holm House Hotel as Sous chef, or taking my first Head Chef position and then the Restaurant Winning a National Award (Brook Bistro- Best Bistro in Cardiff & Wales Food Awards Wales 2019).
What has been the greatest compliment you’ve ever had about your food?
My favourite feedback is when someone says, ‘This reminds me of something my grandmother made,’ or tells me it brings back childhood memories. Job done.
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
I love the fact that it doesn’t feel like work when you’re doing something you really enjoy, I love being creative and giving people enjoyment through food.
What advice would you give to any person keen to start in the industry?
Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, the only person who can stop you doing something is yourself. One of my favourite quotes is from the award-winning American Chef Wylie Dufresne, which pretty much sums it up;
“Success is more like a marathon and less like a sprint.”
Tom Martin’s next pop-up is on Sunday 5th April at The Potted Pig- we’ve heard that tickets are now limited. If you’re quick tickets are £50pp (£15pp deposit to be paid on booking) – please contact The Potted Pig on 029 20 224817 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
But if you do happen to miss out, we’re pleased to announce that tickets are now available to purchase on Find My Dine for his vegan supper club at The Little Man Coffee Company in Cardiff on the 6th June. We’d also like to wish Tom all the luck for the 30th of March, where he’ll be competing for the title of Junior Chef of Wales 2020.