Jamie Moss, General Manager, Tom's Kitchen Birmingham

The  Staff Canteen

Jamie Moss is the General Manager of Tom’s Kitchen Birmingham, a collection of restaurants set up by Michelin-starred chef, Tom Aikens.

Jamie’s no stranger to working with some of the country’s best known chefs including the likes of Glynn Purnell, who currently owns the Michelin-starred restaurant, Purnell’s. Jamie has remained close to his hometown working for Malmaison, Hotel du Vin and Harvey Nichols - a £15 million concept store he helped launch in 2015 with Glynn Purnell. As General Manager, Jamie is at the helm of launching the first Tom’s Kitchen in Birmingham this December-the first site in the UK to be launched outside of London.

The Staff Canteen caught up with Jamie to discuss the opening of Tom’s Kitchen in Birmingham, pitching in with some cooking from time-to-time and why you should be prepared to sacrifice birthdays and Christmases if you want a career in hospitality.

Tom's Kitchen - credit

David Griffen

Were you excited for the launch of the first Tom’s Kitchen outside of London?

Yes, very. Having lived and worked in the city for the last 12 years I’m proud that Tom’s Kitchen has chosen Birmingham for its first site outside of London. It shows how far this city has come in the last few years in terms of its food scene, which is now seen by many as the most exciting outside of the capital.

How did the opening go? (The restaurant opened at the end of December 2016)

It went really well, we opened last Friday (December 30) so it was a busy weekend to open on. The whole first week was booked up straight away! The brunch offering seems to be very popular with local residents and we had a successful first week in the deli as well which opened at the same time so it’s been a really positive opening week.

There must have been a real buzz opening over New Year.

Absolutely. It’s quite a busy time to open and although things have slowed down a little this week as people get back into their regular routines we have had a very strong lunch trade over the last few days.
The end of December is a tough time to open but we have had a busy first week and we’re looking forward to the next few weeks. We have taken a lot of bookings for potential events and private dining and enquiries for the next few months so things are looking really good for us.

Did the first week of trade meet your expectations for the restaurant?

Given the timing it has been really busy and positive. People have certainly made the effort to come out and try it. I think people have been looking forward to it for quite some time which has helped. They were queuing up to try it in the first week even though it was what you would expect to be a quieter week.

Info bar

Worst behaved customer they’ve ever served

I’ve had plenty over the years, especially during my time working in boutique hotels, where I would regularly deal with Premiership footballers, musicians and television personalities in the bars. I would say anyone who is disrespectful as nobody deserves to be verbally abused at work least of all FOH staff at 2am!

Top service experiences  

The best service experience I’ve had recently would be at Adam’s restaurant in Birmingham, which was flawless from start to finish, I think the best service is when everything just happens around you without you even noticing, but when you look up someone is always there. Everything was perfect.

Do you think it will improve Birmingham’s food and drink scene?

I think the food and drinks scene is incredibly strong but I think if you look at the restaurants and bars around we certainly compliment that and bring something different to the mailbox. There’s already a strong food scene within the surrounding area but with the deli and brunch offering, which I think is very new to Birmingham, it’s just that something different at a reasonable price point for fresh food and ingredients that are ethically sourced.

Tom’s Kitchen is very well known in London, how do you think people will respond to this one in Birmingham?

I think people in Birmingham are very knowledgeable about the wider restaurant scene so they will certainly be aware of Tom’s Kitchen and as I mentioned there was a real excitement around this opening. There’s nothing quite like it in Birmingham at the moment so I think it will do very well.

>>> Read more about Tom Aikens here

Can you tell us a little more about what people can expect.

We follow the core concept of Tom’s Kitchen that has been so successful in London so we will be serving British favourites and comfort food classics in a relaxed and informal brasserie setting. Our ethos is all about using ethically sourced, seasonal ingredients so there will always be something new to try on the menus and specials boards. We also have a bar which offers a selection of beers, as well as classic cocktails, champagne and contemporary seasonal concoctions, alongside fine wines from around the world and our artisan suppliers.

What’s your involvement in the restaurant as general manager?

As general manager, I oversee the day-to-day operation of the Bar, Restaurant and Deli. I’m very hands on as a manager so

Tom's Kitchen - David Griffen

Tom's Kitchen - credit

David Griffen

you’ll find me behind the bar on a busy Saturday night, running food, greeting our guests and even pitching in with a bit of cooking in the kitchen from time to time. I think it’s important for a manager to have a grasp of all areas of the business as well as taking care of all the relevant admin of course. I will also be spending time building relationships with other businesses in the local area so that we can grow our presence in the city.

Did you always know you wanted to work in the hospitality industry?

I think like many in this industry I found my way into it almost by accident, I worked in restaurants when I was in my teens and loved it, so it became my career. I enjoyed the social element to it and that each day is different. I’ve always had a passion for food and cooking as well so I think it was always going to be the perfect job for me.

You’ve generally stayed in Birmingham, what has kept you in the city?

I studied in Birmingham and have lived here for over 10 years now so its home for me really. I’ve been lucky enough to move around the country with secondment roles throughout my career so I have spent some time in London and other cities in the UK. I feel that Birmingham is a city that is developing quickly in terms of business and culture so it’s a great place to be.

Do you think you will stay in Birmingham?

I would love to travel at some stage, my immediate future lies in Birmingham though and I’m fully focussed on launching Tom’s Kitchen and ensuring its success over the next few months.

You used to work at Harvey Nichols and were an integral part of Glynn Purnell’s restaurant concept, how did you find working with Glynn?

It was a great experience to work with Glynn, much like Tom he’s somebody that I have followed for many years and the chance to develop a food concept alongside him for Harvey Nichols was incredibly exciting. Glynn is very passionate about what he does and I learnt a huge amount from spending time with him and his team.

>>> Related: Glynn Purnell, Purnell's, Birmingham

Working for big named chefs like Tom and Glynn, do you think sometimes the chef overshadows the FOH team?

Tom's Kitchen - credit David Griffen
Tom's Kitchen - credit David Griffen

No not at all, at the end of the day this is a team sport and both Tom and Glynn would agree that every member of the team has their role to play and that no individual is less important than another. I think the FOH teams count themselves lucky to be able to work with chef’s such as Tom and Glynn to inspire them to be as good as they can be.

What should a young person expect from a career in food/drink service?

They should expect to work extremely hard, it’s not for the faint hearted but the rewards are great for those who embrace the industry, a career in hospitality can open a door to the world but you must be prepared for the long hours, missed birthdays and Christmases etc.

Aside from the opening of Tom’s Kitchen in Birmingham, what’s next for you in the future?

I’ve wanted to open my own restaurant. In terms of the concept I would like something along these lines, really fresh, modern, British cuisine. It’s certainly something I have always worked around and would probably launch if ever the opportunity came up but that will be a lot further down the line. There are no confirmed plans right now, I’m still learning my trade every day and am looking forward to this new chapter with Tom’s Kitchen.

>>> Read more in the Are You Being Served? series here

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 12th January 2017

Jamie Moss, General Manager, Tom's Kitchen Birmingham