Meet the chef: Talking food with Tom Sellers of Restaurant Story
Tom Sellers was once called the rising star of the London dining scene. In just a few short years, that title has been tossed away as the Michelin-starred chef stakes his claim as one of the leaders in the world of gastronomy.
Sellers comes from a working-class family in Nottingham and started his cooking career at the age of 16 at a pub kitchen. He then moved to London where he trained under Chef Tom Aikens, who holds the title of being the youngest Briton to have ever earned two Michelin stars. He then made his way around Europe and the US where he cooked in the kitchens of some of the best restaurants in the world such as Noma and Per Se.
He opened Restaurant Story near Tower Bridge at the age of 26, and within five months had earned a Michelin star. He is now also the Executive chef at The Lickfold Inn, a Grade-II listed pub and dining room in West Sussex.
After spending her birthday dinner at Restaurant Story, Luxury Lifestyle Magazine food writer Ina Yulo wanted to find out more about the incredible dishes she had and the stories that had inspired them.
When you were 10 years old, what did you think you’d be doing right now?
Professional sportsman – either in football or ice hockey.
What were some of your biggest learnings working out of other chefs’ kitchens?
Discipline, application and dedication.
At Restaurant Story, you collaborated with other chefs and musical artists on the playlist that guests listened to whilst dining. How did that idea come about?
I thought it would be cool to have people I idolised within the food industry contribute to the overall experience at Story.
Tell me a bit about opening Restaurant Story. What were some of the biggest challenges and best moments?
The biggest challenge is managing expectation from staff and guests. The best moment is watching a group of people strive for the same goal day-in, day-out.
My fiancé and I have both agreed that we experienced some of the best service we’ve ever had at your restaurant. What is the philosophy your staff lives by and how do you ensure it’s in line with your ethos on a daily basis?
Our motto is “do a little better everyday”. I never want a guest to feel their experience is processed. I want each guest to have an individual experience tailored to them.
That beef dripping dish was incredible. I know you got the idea from something your dad did whilst growing up, but can you share how the whole dish actually came together in your head?
I was at my family home in the kitchen on a Sunday, thinking about life. There was a candle lit on the table and it was dripping. My father used to eat dripping every Sunday, and as I watched the candle dripping, the idea came to me.
How would you describe your food and cooking style today and how has this evolved since you first started?
Intelligent and product-driven. I like my cooking to have a narrative behind it. It’s gotten simpler over time.
What made you decide to write your book “A Kind of Love Story”?
I wanted the book to be a moment in time, it was about my experience to date and how I felt at that time. I was in a very reflective state of mind. The style of book I wanted to write could only be written when I was in that mindset.
What would your last meal on earth be?
My mum’s lasagne
What’s next for Chef Tom Sellers?
I like to live in the present, my focus is on Story and the day-to-day.
Is there a piece of advice you could share with other aspiring chefs?
Surround yourself with people who share the same vision, because you can’t do it on your own. Above everything, application and discipline are the most important qualities.
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