The Wordrobe gets up close and professional with Tom Booton, Head Chef of the eponymous Alyn Williams at The Westbury restaurant
What inspired you to become a chef?
I’m not too sure what inspired me as my parents are both not very good cooks! I guess to be honest I love the pressure, the team work and now the creative side of my job.
I still don’t see it as a job though, it’s still more of a hobby and love then a boring 9-5 job sitting at a desk all day. It’s more fun than that!
Where did you train? Tell us more about your culinary background…
I started at a beautiful little restaurant back in Essex when I was 15 called Le Talbooth (part of the Milsoms group). I used to work Friday evening, Saturday all day and Sunday all day while I was still at school.
My dad had to pick me up past midnight on a Saturday every week! Then before I left school, I was asked by my then boss Ian Rhodes to come and work full time with him rather than go to college.
The day after I finished at school I started my full-time role at Le Talbooth, being paid £10,000 pa. It was probably the richest I have ever been in my life too!
After 4 years I decided to make the move to London, starting at Alyn Williams when it had just opened in 2012 as a commis chef. After that I moved onto different restaurants, going up the ranks in the kitchen. Now, six years later I am back with Alyn as his Head Chef.
What can guests expect from a meal at Alyn Williams at The Westbury?
We do the upmost to give our customers a great time and a visit to remember. We are very human with our guests and treat everyone the same.
We don’t employ robotic front of house and want our staff to show their real personality. That’s what gives a personal touch when you go out to eat, not a waiter who reads a script the old GM wrote 40 years ago!
Describe your cooking style in three words.
Seasonal, clean, and tasty (most important).
What advice would you offer to aspiring chefs?
Be loyal, be a part of the team and understanding what you’re all moving together to achieve. Find a head chef you admire and who is willing to push and teach you. Sometimes it’s not all about the cooking – attitude for me is most important!
Do you have any role models?
To be honest, my mum and dad.
What is your favourite autumn ingredient to work with?
Has to be mushrooms for me!
Name three of your top restaurants
1 Smoking Goat (it’s definitely our team’s favourite, they go every week!)
2 Rajdoot in Marylebone
3 Glovers Ally in Dublin (my old head chef)
Do you have a favourite autumn dish?
What’s next on the cards?
Maybe one day in the future I will have my own place but at the moment it’s full power on keeping moving forward here at the Westbury.
I’ve got a really great team, Charlie my sous chef is very strong. We are always bouncing ideas of each other, trying to push to make our guests have an even better time than they already do.