About Time You Met: Tom SellersBy Alicia Grimshaw
Tom Sellers is a busy man; he’s at the helm of Restaurant Story, a concept he created when he was 19 and the restaurant which earned himself his first Michelin star when he was 26. Tom is also the Executive Chef of three-AA Rosette pub and restaurant, The Lickfold Inn in West Sussex, and more recently, Tom designed the menu for Bombay Sapphire’s Grand Journey 2.0 event. We sat down with Tom to chat food, seasonal ingredients and the London foodie scene:
Tell us a little bit about your journey – how did it all start?
A long time ago! I’ve spent half my life in a kitchen and it doesn’t look like it’s changing soon. Cooking has taken me all over the world; Asia, America, and all around Europe which is kind of amazing. It has also been a very personal journey throughout.
You opened Restaurant Story in 2013, and within 5 months it gained a Michelin Star – did you ever think it would ever happen so quick?
It was a dream and an ambition of mine, and something I had been working towards my entire life. Frankly though, you don’t know which way it’s going to go. The day of the announcement was probably my proudest day to date.
What person or place has influenced your cooking style the most?
I’m influenced wherever I go. When Story opened, my dishes were mostly inspired by memories from my childhood and formative years. But I’m also hugely influenced by ingredients themselves – their history or provenance. As my cooking changes seasonally, the ingredients are always determined by the time of year and the conditions of that year.
You’ve teamed with Bombay Sapphire for their Grand Journey 2.0 event – how did the partnership come about?
I love gin and was interested in partnering with a gin brand to tie food and gin together. I really respect Bombay Sapphire’s attitude to building flavour in their gin, using botanicals from all over the world to create the right balance. And their brand has stood the test of time; it’s a real honour to work alongside such an established brand with a strong creative vision.
The event focuses on gin botanicals – what can people expect from the menu?
I’ve selected four of the botanicals in the gin and devised a dish around each of the botanicals. I chose juniper for the amuse, Lemon for a scallop dish, almond to go alongside pork, and a dessert made from angelica. It was fun to play around and focus on a specific flavour.
How long did the menu take to put together ? And do you have a favourite dish?
There’s huge scope to any flavour, and you’d be surprised how much you can do with only a single botanical so it took a while of experimenting to create flavours that compliment, rather than mask the other ingredients on a plate.
What’s currently growing in the Restaurant Story’s greenhouse?
Herbs. Lots and lots of herbs. We’re experimenting with what we can grow and this summer has been good so far. We also grow vegetables but have limited space the minute which we’d love to change in future.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Always remember what you’ve been told.
What do you think of the London foodie scene?
I don’t concentrate too much on trends particularly. I love the diversity of the food in London, but I kind of just concentrate on my principals and the ingredients I want to work with.
Favourite place for brunch in London?
There are some nice places in my area (Bermondsey) but honestly, I don’t get to eat brunch that often!
Favourite place for a coffee in London?
I like Fuckoffee on Bermondsey Street. It’s really close to the restaurant, and it does a good cup of coffee. I also serve Monmouth at Story because their single origin beans are pretty amazing.