10 Minutes With: Aaron Mulliss on his new role as Tom Kerridge’s Executive Group Chef

The  Staff Canteen

Aaron Mulliss is currently the head chef at Tom Kerridge’s The Hand and Flowers, which holds two stars in the Michelin Guide UK.

But come the summer and he will be taking on a new role as he celebrates 10 years in the Marlow-based kitchen. The Staff Canteen spoke to Aaron about becoming Executive Group Chef of Tom Kerridge’s ever expanding brand, opening in London and why The Hand and Flowers will still be his main focus.

Aaron Mulliss: Alain ducasse lunch the hand and flowers, marlow
Aaron Mulliss

“I'm very excited to start this new role as well as a little nervous, but it's time for a new challenge and one which I'm going to make my own,” explains Aaron Mulliss as he talks about becoming Tom Kerridge's Executive Group Chef.

A decade working in any kitchen deserves a pat on the back (or a promotion as is the case for Aaron) especially one which transformed the dining scene as the first pub to get two Michelin stars. Aaron has a lot of memories from his time at The Hand and Flowers and that second star is top of his list.

He said: “This is something that can never be repeated, we were the first pub ever to be awarded this accolade and one which I was very proud to be a part of…..ok I cried!”

He added: “My worst memory from my time here has to be in the early days, I had only been part of the team for a couple of weeks and during service misheard an order being called, this lead to my world spiralling out of control and dropping a gallon of soup all over Tom and Chris (Mackett)!”

The new role will involve Aaron overseeing The Hand and Flowers and The Coach as well as the relaunch of The Rib Room at the Jumeirah Charlton Tower. He said: “I will act as a great source of support for each space. Initially, when we open in London I see myself being there for the majority of my time, but once it is up and running Marlow will be my base.”

He added: “I can assure you that for as long as I am with the Tom Kerridge brand, The Hand and Flowers will always be my soul focus. It is the establishment that everything is built upon, the foundations of all that we do.”aaron quote

The Rib Room is set to launch this year after a complete refurb and will be Tom Kerridge’s first London venture, and one Aaron is excited to support. We’ve heard rumours about who some of the brigade may be but for now, Aaron and Tom are keeping their cards close to their chests!

“The nearer we get to the relaunch of The Rib Room the more I will become involved with recipe development, recruitment, rotas and kitchen structure,” he explained. “I will be on hand to support the very talented team we are piecing together and we have confidence in them to bring The Rib Room back to its former glory.”

He added: “The Rib Room will be a standalone restaurant and different to anything we have done before, we will still cook in the same style as we do in Marlow but we want to embrace some of the classic dishes from The Rib Room past and present.

“We still want it to be a space where everyone feels comfortable but we are also going to embrace that five star luxury the hotel already offers.”

Many chefs who have made a name for themselves with one restaurant go on to open more ventures but, this begs the question do these follow on eateries become watered down versions of the original? Is it possible to keep the original chefs’ style and dishes consistent throughout all of their restaurants?

Aaron Muliss: Alain ducasse lunch the hand and flowersAaron doesn’t seem phased by this prospect, saying: “We are never afraid of a dilution of what we do or set out to do. Between Tom, Jamie (May), Ben (Howarth), Nick (Beardshaw), Tommo (De Keyser), Chris (Mackett), George (O'Leary) and I we have over 50 years combined experience of The Hand and Flowers Group - new openings or ventures only happen when the core is strong enough.”

After 10 years with Tom, Aaron admits he has ‘learnt a huge amount’ from him ‘not just as a cook but a manager and a person’.

“I consider myself pretty personable and easy going, but from working with Tom you understand the importance of personality and warmth and this echoes through everything that he does.”

Landing this new role will not have come easily, it takes a lot of graft and sacrifice to get to the top in any two Michelin-starred kitchen and for young chefs wondering how to go about it here’s Aaron’s advice: “Have a great self-belief, never be swayed by fashions and fads, do your time in each establishment you work in and always set your alarm!”

So what does the future look like for Aaron?

“I want to get my teeth stuck into this new role and see where it takes us,” he said. “Never at the age of 22, selling mobile phones in a call centre, did I think I would be exec chef of a restaurant group, so who knows maybe I'll win the X Factor!”

By Cara Houchen


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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 18th May 2017

10 Minutes With: Aaron Mulliss on his new role as Tom Kerridge’s Executive Group Chef