The Elegant Spotlight: Tom Hamblet, Winner, MasterChef The Professionals 2023.

We speak to one of the culinary scene’s most dynamic young stars

He may be only 24, but Tom Hamblet is already taking the culinary world by storm. Last year, he successfully took on 31 other professionals as, over seven weeks, they competed to win the coveted MasterChef: The Professionals 2023 crown.

 

When he’s not impressing industry legends with his culinary skills on prime-time TV, Tom serves as the Head Chef at The Avenue restaurant at Exclusive Collection’s Lainston House Hotel, where he will be in residency until September 1st. Here, he shares what inspired his journey into the culinary world, the sources of his creative influences, and his top tip for cooking the most flavourful and tender red meat.

Tom, can you share a bit about your culinary background and what inspired you to become a chef?


I think what inspired me most was my dad, who is also a chef, advising me against a culinary career. He always explained how it was a tough career. Needless to say, I ignored their advice, and I’m very glad I did, and so are they! I’ve spent most of my career training in Michelin kitchens – I love the drive and passion you see in these kitchens. I also spent two years perfecting the art of pastry cheffing.


Were there any specific chefs or cuisines that influenced your cooking style?


You can be influenced by a number of sources, from social media to eating out. I think style gradually develops as you gain experience, as your approach to cooking becomes more defined and structured. I don’t believe I have a set style, but it’s on the way!


What philosophy underpins your menus?


I try to use seasonal and local produce as much as I can as it’s best to go with nature, but also try and push myself to use ingredients I haven’t had much experience in working with before.

Olive oil sponge with lemon, olive oil, crème fraiche, fennel pollen and toasted fennel seed ice cream


How do you see the luxury dining experience evolving?


I think the dining experience is always evolving. Now we see more menus using own-grown ingredients, grown in the restaurant’s garden or the hotel’s estate. It’s nice to know where the food you are eating is from.


How do you approach creating new dishes or experimenting with flavours?


I tend to start off with flavour combinations that I know work, and then experiment with a few different flavours added to steer away from being too traditional. I find that a lot of things you try don’t make the menu, but with some experimentation and creativity, eventually you can make it work!


What ingredient do you think is underrated and why?


A lot of guests that come for dinner at The Avenue order the beef dish and have never heard of lovage before, It’s a
great flavour and I think especially in home cooking, It’s not used anywhere near enough.

Chocolate tart with caramelised popcorn, peppercorn, blood orange, pink peppercorn ice cream


What culinary trends do you find most exciting right now?

I love restaurants with a tasting menu of more than 10 courses. It’s so exciting to sit down and relax for hours and just be fed loads of amazing new flavour combinations and things you wouldn’t expect to work together, yet leave not feeling too full.


Can you share a cooking tip or trick that home cooks might find helpful?


I think the best one is to brine your red meat overnight in 7% salted water. (for 1 litre of water, add 50-70gm of salt). It seasons the meat throughout and can make it incredibly tender.


What advice would you give to someone with aspirations to become a chef?


A great piece of advice would be to work for a chef that makes food you admire and are interested in! And there is no escaping, you will also need to work hard.


What is your ideal meal?


I think it depends on the situation. I love sitting down outside with the BBQ on and cooking a variety of different
meats, but I also love fajitas. They are a guilty pleasure of mine!

Experience Tom’s award-winning approach to fine dining at

Lainston House