Table Talk with… Tony Parkin
Like most of us, chef Tony Parkin has found lockdown a strange time and although he admits there have been days where he hasn’t done much, he also reveals he has used the time to come up with new ways to push his restaurant forward. The restaurant in question is Michelin starred Tony Parkin at The Tudor Room, an intimate dining room with just eight tables at the Great Fosters hotel, Surrey. As the namesake and Head Chef, Tony prepares a contemporary tasting menu using seasonal ingredients, many of which are freshly picked from the kitchen garden on the Tudor estate each morning.
With almost 20 years working in the industry, Tony has worked across a range of different kitchens curating everything from classical French dishes to Nordic inspired cuisine. His CV includes The West House in Ashford, private chef to Lord and Lady Bamford and two-Michelin starred Kommendaten in Copenhagen. The Tudor Room was first awarded a Michelin star in October of 2016 and Tony is very proud that he has retained the star for 2020.
The beginning of August saw the reopening of The Tudor Room after closing its door during lockdown and Tony is excited to get back in the kitchen and showcase his brand new menu. His new offerings will see the same style of food as before however he has spent time refining the menu all the while making sure it still has his philosophy of bold simple flavours. Despite being busy preparing to reopen, Magnificent Marrow caught up with Tony to find out what goes into planning his menus, his most memorable meal and who he loves to sit down at the dining table with at the end of the day.
I get asked what inspired me to be a chef a lot! My parents used to take us out for dinner a lot as kids and my mum is a really good cook. However I think I have just become more passionate as the years go on. I’m a bit of a workaholic.
Ingredients are something that massively inspire my menu. Like any top restaurant I look at buying the best of the best. In my kitchen everything from the meat, fish, and veg are carefully sourced. However I go to extreme lengths to get the best flour, sugar, butter, salt and eggs, even our dairy and cheese is from amazing suppliers and farms. It is something I put a lot of effort into and I’m very passionate about.
My career highlight so far is without doubt having the restaurant named Tony Parkin at The Tudor Room. Also winning a Michelin star in just 5 months of being at The Tudor Room was a huge highlight. It’s a massive testament to my team who really slogged it out.
I prefer to go out for dinner, always! I spend 16 hours a day, five days a week cooking. It is not something I want to do when I have a day off.
The first dish I learned to cook was probably cheese on toast! Not something people probably expect to hear from a professional chef.
The most memorable meal I had was for a few reasons. It was at the Greenhouse in Dublin which is a two-Michelin starred restaurant headed by chef Mickael Viljanen who is also a close friend. Plus I proposed to my missus there so it was extra special.
If I had to pick between a starter or pudding it would defo be a starter! Plus I hate the word pudding.
My go-to comfort dish is probably a Thai Jungle Curry. Thai food is a massive favourite of mine and my good friend John Chantarasak happens to be an incredible Thai chef so often sends me recipes.
My favourite dining companion is without doubt my fiancée Laura. She loves eating out and has a huge passion for restaurants in general which helps with me being in the job I’m in.
My dream dinner guest is my four year old daughter Daisy! I haven’t seen her in a few months because of lockdown, however she is coming to spend the weekend with us and we're going to make pizzas and cook them in my pizza oven which she is very excited about.
My favourite drink of choice is Estrella Damm beer. Anyone that knows me knows I plough through the stuff.
My favourite vegetable is either cauliflower or celeriac. You can utilise both in so many different ways and they go well with an abundance of meat and fish.
My death row dinner would be something foie gras related with maybe a hot and sour thai broth somewhere. I would then follow that up with The Hand and Flowers’ (only pub in the UK with two Michelin stars) chocolate and ale cake or a nutmeg custard tart.
The first restaurant I’m going to visit, now that lockdown is easing, is the two-Michelin starred Moor Hall. Owned and run by my good friend Mark Birchall, it is without doubt my favourite restaurant in the UK alongside the Greenhouse in Dublin. We had it booked before lockdown but it obviously got cancelled however we're going the weekend before my restaurant opens and I can't wait.