Tom Scade, Executive Chef at The Vineyard

Alex South

Alex South


Chef to Watch: Tom Scade, Executive Chef at The Vineyard

Working hard, creating positive relationships with people, and knowing what works for you are three key drivers in developing a name for yourself.

For Tom Scade, Executive Chef at The Vineyard, it’s no different and has helped establish him as one of the most interesting and hardworking professionals within the industry.

Explaining how he entered the industry, Tom said: “I was 15 at school, not really knowing what I wanted to do. We used to have work experience for two weeks and there was a big board of jobs, and there was a place Bowman's Brasserie, and it just stood out to me and I thought I'll give that a go and see what that's all about.”

He added: “It was in a time of Jamie Oliver knocking round London on his on his scooter with a supermodel girlfriend and that sort of life appeals, so I went to this restaurant and as soon as I walked through the doors in the kitchen, I just fell in love with the atmosphere, the camaraderie, as a 15-year-old you're enthralled by all that.”

Before taking up the position of executive chef at the Vineyard in 2019, Tom worked across an impressive range of some of Britain’s most well-known pubs, hotels and restaurants.

As an apprentice, Tom worked under Keith Stanley at Langans Coq D’Or for four years before spending another four years working at The Ritz under John Williams MBE.

“I think he'd been there about six months, maybe a year, so I went there to have a look and sat down with chef and I never really looked back. I think I started as demi and finished as senior chef de partie. I met some great people along the way and learnt from some amazing chefs that come through that kitchen at that time, and still today,” explained Tom.

Four years later and eager to take the next step in career, Tom took up a position working with a friend at The Bee in Windlesham, where in the space of 6 months he played in key role in obtaining Bib Gourmand award.

“It was only ever going to be six months, working with friends is never the best idea,” joked Tom.

After 6 months, Tom worked for variety of pubs and restaurants including The Mariners in Cornwall, The Kensington Arms in Kent, and Martin Blunos’s eponymous restaurant in Bath, before taking up work with The Crab & Boar in Chieveley.

“It was a nice pub but again it wasn't where I wanted to be, but it was a bit of a stopgap really,” explained Tom.

It was in this role where a chance encounter paved the way for Tom’s future success.

Recalling this specific moment, Tom explained: “There was one day a function came in that I think were called a The Newbury Diners Association and I cooked for them. At the end, I was called out and I spoke to one of the diners, Andrew McKenzie who's managing director the Vineyard and he said it was a fantastic meal, it's probably the best we've had this year, and if there's anything I can ever help with or do here's my number give me a ring.”

A couple of years later, following the departure of The Vineyard’s Robby Jenks, Tom contacted Andrew expressing an interest in the role before appointed the restaurant’s new executive chef.

“I emailed him and said I don't know if you remember but I cooked for you a few years ago, and I got a reply saying, of course I do, I'll send you details on to our general manager, and that's why I'm sitting here today,” explained Tom.

He added: “I always tell people that story because it doesn't matter where you're cooking. As long as you give it your all and you put everything into your food, you never know who you're cooking for, who's going to notice it, or where you'll end up in five year’s time.”


Tom’s cooking is an enigma and contradiction.

Impossible to pigeonhole, his menu focuses on simplicity, avoiding over-complicated faffs and concepts, whilst celebrating the best seasonal produce available.

“Is it fine dining? Is it home cuisine? It's just good food using the best produce we possibly can, not doing too much to it. I like the simplistic look on a plate. I don't like lots and lots of things on there,” he said.

Trout and rare breeds of pork from Berkshire are two items that Tom has utilised a lot recently reflecting the quality of prime ingredients in the chef’s arsenal.

“People say what's your favourite dish and for me it's always the next one. It's always that one that you're thinking of,” he explained.

Highlighting what guests can expect in the coming weeks and months, Tom revealed: “Cocoa beans are going out of season at the minute, so they're on Dover sole dish. Right now, I'm working on a monkfish dish to replace that sole dish, and then the next one will be the Berkshire pie. Game season's coming in, we're just waiting for the pheasants a bit later this year, so we're just waiting on those coming in and then we'll develop that dish.”


Looking to the future, drawing upon his own experiences across the last twenty years, Tom is keen to continue helping chefs of the future break into the industry and reach their goals.

“If we want to carry on and keep going then we need to put the effort into the youngsters coming through which I was lucky enough to have that support from the various chefs I worked for and came across,” explained Tom.

The Vineyard like other top restaurants across the country see apprenticeships as one of the best ways for young people to enter the industry and learn the trade.

Looking at the talent that’s been produced at the Vineyard whilst revealing his plans for the future, Tom said: “There was so many people that came through this kitchen and I'd love to be able to build a kitchen like that again where we're nurturing young talent, giving them the space, giving them the opportunities to develop themselves as chefs to grow and to go on do some great things.”

He added: “It's great to be part of the company which is evolving and always moving forward and not looking backwards. It's had some great moments but there are some even better ones to come hopefully.”


Tom’s advice for chefs wanting to be at the top of their game is essential.

“Don't rush it, that's the main thing. You've got your whole life ahead, you've got 30/35 years in the kitchen, you do not need to be a head chef within four or five years,” he explained.

Patience is a virtue but so too is being eager to learn. You can’t reach the top without learning and you can’t learn without making mistakes.

“There's no point, you don't make enough mistakes, you learn from making the mistakes. That's how you develop, that's how you grow and when you start in your in your career, you've got to understand you are going to make thousands of mistakes and everyone around you will have made those mistakes,” Tom said.

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Alex South

Alex South

Editor 2nd November 2022

Tom Scade, Executive Chef at The Vineyard