Tom Aitkens is known for his high standards – he even hit headlines in 1999 after he was accused of burning a colleague in a plush London restaurant with a hot palette knife.
He may still describes himself on Twitter as a “crazy passionate chef”, but, he now says, “I’ve definitely mellowed with age and matured”.
He’s still demanding in his Tom’s Kitchen restaurants though. “Having paying customers, they expect a certain level of quality and consistency in what you’re doing, so everyone has to be ship-shape.”
Want to try one of Aikens’ recipes at home? Here’s one from his 2011 book, ‘Easy’.
Place a pan over a medium heat and add the butter. When this has melted, add the onions to the pan, together with the thyme, sugar and salt. Cook over a medium heat, stirring now and again, until the onions are lightly caramelised and golden – about 12 minutes.
Add the stock and cider, bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the creme fraiche. Remove the thyme sprigs, pour the soup into a blender and blend until you have a smooth puree.
Toast the slices of baguette until golden on both sides, then rub with a cut clove of garlic. Top with the grated cheese and grill until the cheese is melted and golden. Place a few slices in each bowl of soup to serve.