A former Young Chef of the Year who worked with Nigel Haworth in the Northcote Manor Restaurant at Langho for seven years, has now become head chef at a Wheatley Lane pub – aged just 23.
Tom Parker is in charge of the cooking facilities at the White Swan, which around here is known as “The Mucky Duck”.
The young protégé of Michelin-starred Northcote’s star Lisa Allen has spread his wings to take over the Fence pub kitchen.
His dishes are traditional – but Tom’s method of cooking is not. There will be no menu – just an ever-changing chalk board using whatever produce he is offered on the day.
Tom said: “As far as I know, no-one else is cooking like this. Literally, I get to the kitchen at 9am and someone will turn up with a pheasant and it is on the board later that day.
“I only cook with what is seasonal and available. For example, we’ve got some mallard coming – some partridge and possibly hare. I’ll decide the night before what to do with it.
“Then we speak to the vegetables guys to see what they’ve got. When you cook like this it is impossible to plan too far ahead.”
Tom worked at Northcote after writing to boss Nigel Haworth when he was 16.
He worked every section of the Langho kitchen under the guidance of Lisa – his close friend and mentor – before going on the win Young Chef of the Year.
Tom said: “Lisa is really supportive of me and she is truly an awesome chef. I have learned so much from working with her – from the food – to creating the right environment to cook.”
Like Lisa, Tom is a stickler for a clutter-free kitchen. After a two-day scrub down of the kitchen with apprentice Ben Ainsworth, the chef set about clearing the room of shelves! “I don’t do shelves,” added Tom. “People tend to put things on them and clear surfaces are a must!”
Tom is using lamb from Barley and wants to encourage more local producers to get in touch. “We want to use the small cheese makers and farmers,” he said.
“That’s something I learned at Northcote. Nigel has always been an advocate of buy local.
“It is a pub; we’re not trying to be a restaurant.”