1 Michelin Star Chefs: Tom Clarke, head chef, L'Ortolan

The  Staff Canteen

Tom Clarke is head chef of the one Michelin starred, L'Ortolan in Reading.

Chef Tom Clarke’s passion for cooking began in his youth while growing up in Essex. His first role in the kitchen came at the tender age of 13 as Tom was taken on as a pot wash.



Church Lane, Shinfield, Reading, Berkshire, RG2 9BY

Opening hours: Lunch: Tuesday to Saturday 12:00 noon - 2:00pm/ Dinner: Tuesday to Saturday 7:00pm - 9:00pm 

Website: https://www.lortolan.com/

Telephone: 01189 888 500

Email: [email protected]

Head chef: Tom Clarke

Restaurant manager: Luis Romagura

Head sommelier: Konrad Lassota

Facebook: L'Ortolan

Twitter: @clarkey_001 


Heavily influenced by his grandmother who would encourage Tom to cook for the family, the young chef followed his dreams and went on to study catering at Colchester Institute. While he was there he had the opportunity to work in the kitchens at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. 

Tom’s first full time post was at 1 Lombard Street in London which, although he enjoyed, proved to be too much of a commute on top of a long day in the kitchen. He moved back to Essex to the then 2 AA Rosettes restaurant, Le Talbooth where he remained for four years. 

Tom Clarke
Tom Clarke

At the age of 22 Tom moved to Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons in Oxfordshire under the guidance of Raymond Blanc. In the two years that he was there, he defined his skills in various areas of the kitchen especially in flavor and technique. 

In 2009, Tom begun work at L’Ortolan as a chef de partie and soon worked his way up to sous chef. To strengthen his knowledge on cuisine, Tom travelled to France to work at the two Michelin starred Le Strato hotel in Courchevel and the legendary L’Oustau de Baumanière in Provence.
Returning to L’Ortolan in August 2012, Tom proved himself to be an invaluable member of Alan’s team earning him the position of acting head chef. Tom Clarke took over in the Michelin starred kitchen at L'Ortolan in January 2015. 

Since taking over the reins of the kitchen Tom has built a strong reputation for consistency and quality in his cooking leading a strong team. The awards and guest reviews are testament to his determination and incredible culinary talent. 

Food style

Speaking of his food style Tom says, “I inject a creative style into the food, focusing on full flavours and modern techniques. I like to hit all the notes – sweet and sour, savoury and salt – to produce a mouthful of complementary flavours.”

Set in the stunning Berkshire countryside Tom likes to source his ingredients locally and is the perfect spot for foraging for seasonal produce.

Inspiration and influences

Having had the opportunity to work for a number of high profile chefs in his time, Tom counts many of these to be an inspiration today.

“Over the years I have been fortunate to train with some incredible chefs including Raymond Blanc, Jean-André Charial and of course Alan Murchison who I deputised for before taking over as head chef at L’Ortolan in January 2015.”

Awards and accolades

Under Tom’s guidance L’Ortolan has retained a star in the Michelin Guide UK for sixteen consecutive years. The fine dining establishment also holds 3 Rosettes in the AA Restaurant Guide.

Videos with Tom Clarke:


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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 25th October 2017

1 Michelin Star Chefs: Tom Clarke, head chef, L'Ortolan