Balancing Chef Maverick | SENATUS



Balancing Chef Maverick

Chef and Writer Tom KIME is one of Britain's most brilliant young minds in the gastronomy world. After making a name in the most famous restaurants in London such as "Le Pont de la Tour" and "The River Cafe", Tom moved to Australia in 1998 and soon started a new endeavour of discovering the secrets of authentic Asian flavours, spices and recipes.

Over the decade, Tom has hosted and produced TV shows on his Asian food adventures, continues to guest in popular food series, and has even written three critically-acclaimed books. The latest title "Asian Bites" was released early this year and has received raving reviews. Over the same period, he has established his own catering company, developed his first and second restaurant at Notting Hill (London) and in Malta respectively. In addition, Tom finds time to contribute articles for the likes of BBC's Good Food Magazine and "Olive" in the UK, to name a few plus various newspapers in Australia.

Tom talks about his theory of balancing flavours and shares insights from his life on balancing roles as chef, author, TV host, consultant and teacher. Read on and indulge in Tom Kime's exceptional passion for food.

FULL NAME: Thomas Robert KIME
PLACE OF BIRTH: Swindon, Wiltshire, South West, England
AGE: 34
CITY OF RESIDENCE: Sydney, Australia and London, England
FAMILY: Married, with no children yet
Bedales School, Hampshire England 1985-1992
Winchester School of Art and Design: Diploma in art foundation studies 1992-93
Leiths School of Food and Wine: Advanced diploma in Food and Wine 1994

How did you come up with the idea of combining the essentials of a cookbook and the ideals of a travelogue?
I have always loved travelling and I naturally want to find out about the culture of the place that I am in. The best and most enjoyable way to do this is by eating the food. The street food and the local food is the beating heart of the community. It is impossible to separate the food from the society. I will always head in the opposite direction from the tour guides and go and find what the locals are doing. It is a great way of exploring a new place, because you never know what delicious treats you will find that are being cooked and eaten by the locals. This is true across the world, whether in Italy or Asia, South America or the Middle East. The access to good food is a great excuse to travel more, and by traveling you find more and more authentic, diverse and delicious food.

You've published 4 books to your name. How do you balance your culinary commitments, with the demands of writing a book?
Writing a book takes a lot of time and so you really have to want to do it. I feel that I have got a lot to say about food, and I really want to share that with every one. You often have to make time around the other things that you are doing, so it often means late nights and early mornings when it is quiet. This is the reason why at the front of a book the author will often thank their partner for putting up with them being chained to the desk.

With my work, the cooking and the writing will often feed into each other. New dishes and ideas will be tried out while catering or doing presentations or demonstrations and cooking classes. Alternatively new recipes will have to be written up from catering jobs, or seasonal availability. You constantly have to adapt, if a certain ingredient is not available or you are cooking for a client who has special dietary requirements.

Your latest work, Asian Bites, has brought you all over the continent. Do you have a favourite from all the places you've visited or is this just too difficult a question to answer?
I love all types of food, so it is a very difficult question to answer. I love the variety of the types of food that are available in Singapore.

I think that Vietnamese food is amazing with its freshness and fragrant vibrancy. The spices in Indian food make for very special eating. What is amazing, about all Asian food despite the huge differences and variety across this vast continent all the food has a perfect balance of taste between hot, sweet, salty and sour. If all these tastes are balance then all your food will be delicious.

What would you say is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is meeting all the different people who are part of this diverse industry and those who love food. I like sharing my love of food with other like-minded people. In a restaurant as a chef is that all you hear is that table 52 enjoyed their meal. I get to share with them on a different level and to really communicate about food. Through my love of food I want to be an inspiration to others. Each week is different for me, I get to travel, and try all sorts of different cuisines. I like to work with people and food. They are completely connected.

Could you share more about the Food Safaris you are currently working on?
I am taking a food lovers trip to Tuscany in Italy from Sept 14th -22nd (2008). The trip will be an eight- day hands on cooking class at an organic Tuscan Farmhouse. There will be wine tours and trips to local producers and markets to unlock the delicious culinary secrets of this country. If you are interested please do not hesitate to contact me via my website There will be another food safari that I am hosting in March traveling around Vietnam, sampling the diverse food from this great nation.

How do you feel about the increasing popularity of cooking shows? What is your favourite TV cooking show?
I think cooking shows are very important because it brings lots of different cuisines and styles to the public arena. If it gets people interested and talking then it is a good thing. I have just recently been filming with Rick Stein in Vietnam as part of a new BBC series. I think that he is a great presenter because he is patient and like me, very passionate about his subject, which he enthuses about with a lot of integrity. I worked for Rick when I was about 21 so it is nice that that has come a full circle,now being asked to film with him. Jamie Oliver is a friend of mine and I cooked at his wedding reception for him. I think that his enthusiasm and commitment to difficult projects is very admirable.

What is the most embarrassing thing you have done as a chef?
I don't get embarrassed easily, as I find it easy to be in front of a crowd. As a chef you often make mistakes, the key is being able to deal with them quickly and also learn from them. When you cook for A-list celebrities and international royalty you have to be very polite and be able to think on you feet. It is like a theatre performance, you cannot forget your lines or what you are providing. You also need to keep the jokes and humour of a kitchen in the kitchen, as it is a particular type of humour. You need to be able to adapt to different situations and talk to different people.

If you knew it was your last day alive, what would be your final meal of choice?
The last meal of choice is a much talked about conversation amongst chefs and food lovers, and it changes all the time. Sometimes it is a wild mushroom risotto, other times it is scallops but I would like to cook them my self. I am a very keen fisherman, so a fish that I had just caught would make a great last meal, simply cooked over a wood fire. A grilled sirloin steak with proper chills and hand made bearnaise sauce cannot be beaten also a really good curry. As I can only have one meal, maybe I should have many courses, so I leave being completely full up.

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