Promotional feature
Tom Aikens & Levy Restaurants UK

Tom Aikens is at the fore of London’s dining scene and has a growing collection of restaurants, with more due to open across the capital in the coming year


Tom Aikens grew up in a family that was passionate about food and fine wine and quickly understood the value and enjoyment of cultivating home-grown produce. As his career developed under the tutorage of top chefs Pierre Koffmann and Joël Robuchon, he developed a passion for French cooking and, aged 26, became the youngest chef to receive two Michelin stars, while head chef at Pied à Terre in London.

In 2010, Aikens joined forces with Levy Restaurants UK, the sports, leisure and hospitality division of Compass Group UK & Ireland, to work with the iconic riverside venue Somerset House. 

The setting at the heart of the city, with views over the Thames, provided an enviable location for the launch of three dining concepts, designed to appeal to the varied footfall and high-profile events hosted there. Tom’s Kitchen, Tom’s Kitchen Terrace and Tom’s Kitchen Deli were all lauded on opening and continue to draw the crowds.

Tom’s Kitchen is a modern, British brasserie restaurant serving comfort food favourites in relaxed surroundings on the ground floor of the grand neo-classical mansion.

Tom’s Kitchen Terrace, open during spring and summer, serves cocktails, champagne, sharing boards and desserts on the 18th-century terrace. Tom’s Kitchen Deli, created for the venue by Aikens and Levy Restaurants, offers a quicker turnaround and a lower price point and has become very popular with local office workers.

A STRONG PARTNERSHIP
When Aikens was approached about relaunching the dining operation at Somerset House by Levy Restaurants, the chef was immediately keen to collaborate on the project.
“Somerset House is such an iconic venue. It’s a real London landmark, a very striking building and it really suited the character of Tom’s Kitchen,” says Aikens.

Levy Restaurants’reasons for approaching Aikens were several. At the time, the company provided the catering for Somerset House through the Admiralty Restaurant, café and deli, but decided it was time for a rethink. Somerset House had become an increasingly well-known venue, hosting a number of high-profile events, including London Fashion Week and a series of major art exhibitions, and the catering no longer provided such a good fit.

“We needed to think about how we could support Somerset House’s vision from a food-and-beverage perspective. It became obvious that we had to look at it in a very radical way, and completely reposition the offer on site,” says Roy Westwood, creative director at Levy Restaurants.

Levy Restaurants began exploring the celebrity chef route, which offered clear benefits in terms of raising the profile of the catering at Somerset House, and carefully considered who might complement the venue.

“Somerset House has a very strong heritage in terms of Britishness, so we needed to find a chef partner who had the same strong British roots,” says Westwood. “Tom was at the top of that list with his Tom’s Kitchen brand – it’s very casual and very innovative. You’ve got the support of a Michelin-starred chef, and yet it’s very casual in its nature and inherently British in its tradition.”

The partnership sees Levy Restaurants manage and run the venue, while Aikens trains the staff and oversees the menu.

“The working relationship we’ve got with Levy Restaurants is very strong,” says Aikens. “There’s a real transparency between us, and we completely understand one another in terms of what we’re focusing on.”

What is also apparent in this new partnership is the marriage of Aikens’ values with those of Levy Restaurants, championing the use of fresh seasonal British produce, creating inspiring dining spaces and nurturing future culinary talent.

“There are a lot of advantages for everyone with partnerships like these,” says Westwood.

“We get to learn from the best in the industry and it raises our profile. From the chef’s point of view, they get the opportunity to work in unique venues, often with a lot of heritage, such as museums and places like Somerset House. Also, it helps chefs explore avenues they might not have otherwise been able to – such as with Tom’s Kitchen Deli.

“We can afford to try things, and if they work, the chefs can take that knowledge away and apply it to their own businesses.”


Levy Restaurants
The team at Tom’s Kitchen adopts Levy Restaurants’ guest-first approach, putting customers at the centre of every decision and challenging them to expect more from their experience. This approach drives results in terms of footfall, ensures repeat bookings and increases time spent in the restaurant and spend-per-head. In 2013, spend-per-head increased by 8.3 per cent in Tom’s Kitchen and 3 per cent in Tom’s Kitchen Deli, generating a 117 per cent profit increase compared with the previous year.

The team at Tom’s Kitchen also cater for Tom’s Kitchen Terrace in the summer and Tom’s Kitchen Skate Lounge in the winter. Other events hosted at Somerset House include Film4 Summer Screen (35,000 customers) and Summer Series with American Express (35,000 customers).


QUICK FIRE: TOM AIKENS

How does your partnership with Levy Restaurants work? Who does what?
The day-to-day running is handled through and by Levy Restaurants. We give them the raw materials in terms of the branding, the menus and the training. We have very specific, detailed manuals on everything from the service to the menus and layout of the venue. Everyone is very clear and open about what everyone else is doing.

What do you have planned for your restaurants at Somerset House?
We recently did the catering for London Fashion Week. The Terrace will be opening soon for spring/summer, and we had a menu change at the start of April. We’re also relocating the Deli at Somerset House because it’s too small. We need a bigger place.

How has your life changed since the early days?
When you’re young you can work all the God-given hours and you don’t mind, but as you get older your priorities change. I have two little girls now, and that’s an important factor in my life. I’m not saying I don’t work just as hard as I used to, but I prioritise a bit more these days.

What are the highlights of your career?
I’ve had lots of opportunities to travel and meet different, amazing people, including Bill Clinton, who I cooked for during the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2010. Also the Brazilian Olympic Committee when they set up home at Somerset House during the 2012 London Olympics. We had to prepare food for them with the assistance of a Brazilian chef for parties and events when they were entertaining clients. That was good.

Who’s been your biggest inspiration in the industry?
Pierre Koffmann and Joël Robuchon. They are two very different chefs. Pierre Koffmann is about hearty, gutsy, provincial Gascony cooking – it’s all about the flavour and the taste, and not so much about the presentation. Joël Robuchon is all about tiny details on a plate, identically spaced or placed. They had two different ways of cooking, plating and running a kitchen, so I learned two very different ways of working.


"I’ve had lots of opportunities to travel and meet different,
amazing people, including Bill Clinton, who I cooked
for during the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2010"


 



Tom Aikens is known for his strong work ethic


For more information please visit Levy Restaurants’ website: www.levyrestaurants.co.uk
For Levy Restaurants enquiries please contact: +44 (0)1895 554 653
For Tom’s Kitchen reservations please call: +44 (0)20 7845 4646 

The team at Tom’s Kitchen Deli at Somerset House
the Deli’s offer includes sandwiches, salads, quiches, meats, cheeses and pastries
Somerset House now hosts a wide range of events and exhibitions
Tom’s Kitchen is on the ground floor at Somerset House and serves British comfort food
 


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Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

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Leisure Management
2014 issue 2

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Leisure Management - Tom Aikens & Levy Restaurants UK

Promotional feature

Tom Aikens & Levy Restaurants UK


Tom Aikens is at the fore of London’s dining scene and has a growing collection of restaurants, with more due to open across the capital in the coming year

Tom Aikens PHOTO: David Griffen
The team at Tom’s Kitchen Deli at Somerset House
the Deli’s offer includes sandwiches, salads, quiches, meats, cheeses and pastries
Somerset House now hosts a wide range of events and exhibitions
Tom’s Kitchen is on the ground floor at Somerset House and serves British comfort food

Tom Aikens grew up in a family that was passionate about food and fine wine and quickly understood the value and enjoyment of cultivating home-grown produce. As his career developed under the tutorage of top chefs Pierre Koffmann and Joël Robuchon, he developed a passion for French cooking and, aged 26, became the youngest chef to receive two Michelin stars, while head chef at Pied à Terre in London.

In 2010, Aikens joined forces with Levy Restaurants UK, the sports, leisure and hospitality division of Compass Group UK & Ireland, to work with the iconic riverside venue Somerset House. 

The setting at the heart of the city, with views over the Thames, provided an enviable location for the launch of three dining concepts, designed to appeal to the varied footfall and high-profile events hosted there. Tom’s Kitchen, Tom’s Kitchen Terrace and Tom’s Kitchen Deli were all lauded on opening and continue to draw the crowds.

Tom’s Kitchen is a modern, British brasserie restaurant serving comfort food favourites in relaxed surroundings on the ground floor of the grand neo-classical mansion.

Tom’s Kitchen Terrace, open during spring and summer, serves cocktails, champagne, sharing boards and desserts on the 18th-century terrace. Tom’s Kitchen Deli, created for the venue by Aikens and Levy Restaurants, offers a quicker turnaround and a lower price point and has become very popular with local office workers.

A STRONG PARTNERSHIP
When Aikens was approached about relaunching the dining operation at Somerset House by Levy Restaurants, the chef was immediately keen to collaborate on the project.
“Somerset House is such an iconic venue. It’s a real London landmark, a very striking building and it really suited the character of Tom’s Kitchen,” says Aikens.

Levy Restaurants’reasons for approaching Aikens were several. At the time, the company provided the catering for Somerset House through the Admiralty Restaurant, café and deli, but decided it was time for a rethink. Somerset House had become an increasingly well-known venue, hosting a number of high-profile events, including London Fashion Week and a series of major art exhibitions, and the catering no longer provided such a good fit.

“We needed to think about how we could support Somerset House’s vision from a food-and-beverage perspective. It became obvious that we had to look at it in a very radical way, and completely reposition the offer on site,” says Roy Westwood, creative director at Levy Restaurants.

Levy Restaurants began exploring the celebrity chef route, which offered clear benefits in terms of raising the profile of the catering at Somerset House, and carefully considered who might complement the venue.

“Somerset House has a very strong heritage in terms of Britishness, so we needed to find a chef partner who had the same strong British roots,” says Westwood. “Tom was at the top of that list with his Tom’s Kitchen brand – it’s very casual and very innovative. You’ve got the support of a Michelin-starred chef, and yet it’s very casual in its nature and inherently British in its tradition.”

The partnership sees Levy Restaurants manage and run the venue, while Aikens trains the staff and oversees the menu.

“The working relationship we’ve got with Levy Restaurants is very strong,” says Aikens. “There’s a real transparency between us, and we completely understand one another in terms of what we’re focusing on.”

What is also apparent in this new partnership is the marriage of Aikens’ values with those of Levy Restaurants, championing the use of fresh seasonal British produce, creating inspiring dining spaces and nurturing future culinary talent.

“There are a lot of advantages for everyone with partnerships like these,” says Westwood.

“We get to learn from the best in the industry and it raises our profile. From the chef’s point of view, they get the opportunity to work in unique venues, often with a lot of heritage, such as museums and places like Somerset House. Also, it helps chefs explore avenues they might not have otherwise been able to – such as with Tom’s Kitchen Deli.

“We can afford to try things, and if they work, the chefs can take that knowledge away and apply it to their own businesses.”


Levy Restaurants
The team at Tom’s Kitchen adopts Levy Restaurants’ guest-first approach, putting customers at the centre of every decision and challenging them to expect more from their experience. This approach drives results in terms of footfall, ensures repeat bookings and increases time spent in the restaurant and spend-per-head. In 2013, spend-per-head increased by 8.3 per cent in Tom’s Kitchen and 3 per cent in Tom’s Kitchen Deli, generating a 117 per cent profit increase compared with the previous year.

The team at Tom’s Kitchen also cater for Tom’s Kitchen Terrace in the summer and Tom’s Kitchen Skate Lounge in the winter. Other events hosted at Somerset House include Film4 Summer Screen (35,000 customers) and Summer Series with American Express (35,000 customers).


QUICK FIRE: TOM AIKENS

How does your partnership with Levy Restaurants work? Who does what?
The day-to-day running is handled through and by Levy Restaurants. We give them the raw materials in terms of the branding, the menus and the training. We have very specific, detailed manuals on everything from the service to the menus and layout of the venue. Everyone is very clear and open about what everyone else is doing.

What do you have planned for your restaurants at Somerset House?
We recently did the catering for London Fashion Week. The Terrace will be opening soon for spring/summer, and we had a menu change at the start of April. We’re also relocating the Deli at Somerset House because it’s too small. We need a bigger place.

How has your life changed since the early days?
When you’re young you can work all the God-given hours and you don’t mind, but as you get older your priorities change. I have two little girls now, and that’s an important factor in my life. I’m not saying I don’t work just as hard as I used to, but I prioritise a bit more these days.

What are the highlights of your career?
I’ve had lots of opportunities to travel and meet different, amazing people, including Bill Clinton, who I cooked for during the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2010. Also the Brazilian Olympic Committee when they set up home at Somerset House during the 2012 London Olympics. We had to prepare food for them with the assistance of a Brazilian chef for parties and events when they were entertaining clients. That was good.

Who’s been your biggest inspiration in the industry?
Pierre Koffmann and Joël Robuchon. They are two very different chefs. Pierre Koffmann is about hearty, gutsy, provincial Gascony cooking – it’s all about the flavour and the taste, and not so much about the presentation. Joël Robuchon is all about tiny details on a plate, identically spaced or placed. They had two different ways of cooking, plating and running a kitchen, so I learned two very different ways of working.


"I’ve had lots of opportunities to travel and meet different,
amazing people, including Bill Clinton, who I cooked
for during the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2010"


 



Tom Aikens is known for his strong work ethic


For more information please visit Levy Restaurants’ website: www.levyrestaurants.co.uk
For Levy Restaurants enquiries please contact: +44 (0)1895 554 653
For Tom’s Kitchen reservations please call: +44 (0)20 7845 4646 


Originally published in Leisure Management 2014 issue 2

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