The Scottish Chefs Conference, Demonstrator chefs - Tom Kitchin

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Running up to this year's Scottish Chefs Conference, we are talking to the demonstrator chefs taking part in this year's special 10 year anniversary. First up is Tom Kitchin.  Tom Kitchin and his wife Michaela opened The Kitchin in 2006. Six months later, the restaurant received its first Michelin star, making the 29 year old the youngest chef in Scotland to obtain a Michelin star. The Kitchin Tom started his culinary career as an apprentice at the five-star Gleneagles Hotel. Tom then went on to experience working with some of the world’s most renowned chefs including Pierre Koffmann at the 3 Michelin-starred La Tante Claire, London, Guy Savoy at his  3 Michelin-starred restaurant, Paris, and Alain Ducasse’s 3 Michelin-starred restaurant Le Louis XV in Monte Carlo. Working with these french chefs influenced Tom and altered his cooking habits. He is now known for creating modern British dishes, using French cooking techniques.

>> Watch: Tom Kitchins advice on how to select, prepare and cook grouse

  In 2013, Tom and fellow chef Dominic Jack opened The Scran & Scallie. All of Tom's restaurants follow the "From Nature to Plate" philosophy which is a reflection of the chef's passion for the finest, freshest Scottish seasonal produce. What does it mean to you to be at the 10th anniversary of the Scottish Chefs Conference? It means an incredible amount. It’s pretty nostalgic for me because I was there at the first one and I’ve not done it since. I really have to say a big thank you to Willie Pike, because in the first year, there was a last minute cancellation from one of the chefs. He had the courage to phone me up to ask me do a demo! It was a really big moment for me, I wasn’t experienced in this kind of things; cooking in front of my peers, and it was nerve-wracking. I was new on the block, I think we had only been open for three months, but the conference really put me on the map. How do you feel about the conference, ten years later?TomKitchin_roasted partridge I am just as excited in my tenth year as I was in my first year. Now I really want to showcase my skills. I think it would be really nice to talk about how I have developed as a chef, and hopefully that would inspire the next generation. We started our restaurant from nothing and over the years it’s grown really naturally and organically. I think people will be interested to see how my business and I, as a chef, have evolved and hopefully I can inspire some people. Why did you want to be involved with the Scottish Chef's Conference? At the beginning I was just a young chef starting a business with my wife, and it was just a chance to get the restaurant’s name out there. We did the conference on the Monday, and on the Sunday before that we had a really good review from The Guardian writer Joanna Blythman. It was just one of the big moments in the restaurant’s life. One minute we were getting a good review then then the next minute I was standing next to Andrew Fairlie and Martin Wishart and I was pinching myself! Do you know what you are going to be cooking this year, and what did you demo in the first year? I am going to do something with game meat, but i'm not sure yet. In my first conference, I remember getting the attention of the crowd by de-boning a pigs head on stage! Willie Pike speaks really fondly about my first demo because I was really nervous and it was a really nice moment.tom k Has anything ever gone wrong whilst you've been doing a demo? When you are cooking live you’re always self-consciously thinking ‘oh my god this is never going to be cooked’ or you take a bird out of the oven but when you carve it, it’s rare and you have to try and hide it. Fortunately I’ve not cut myself yet, but I have burnt myself, shouted “OUCH”, and doing everything not to swear on Saturday Kitchen! The worst thing for me is doing the omelette challenge on Saturday Kitchen, where there’s shell everywhere and butter that’s not melted and it’s just awful! Do you think that this conference is important for Scottish chefs? I think, without Willie, without his sheer determination to make this happen and to raise the profile of Scottish chefs, Scotland’s food industry and food profile would be nowhere near where it is today. I think this festival should really be a celebration of what he has achieved. For years, Scotland has been stuck with the idea where young kids come out of school at 16 and they don’t know where they want to go, so they’re just thrown into catering. Kids are now thinking “I want to become a chef, I want to get into hospitality and I want to do something with my life” and really thinking of it as a career and not just something to do when they’re chucked out of school. So for me it’s all about getting these kids and making them understand what a great industry it is. By Katie Pathiaki
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Editor 24th October 2015

The Scottish Chefs Conference, Demonstrator chefs - Tom Kitchin