The Wordrobe meets chef Tom Cenci to find out more about his new venture Loyal Tavern, cooking good, honest food and why it’s important to never look back
What inspired you to become a chef?
Unfortunately, lots of my family can’t cook, so was something I wanted to find out more about. When I was at school, I wrote to all the local hotels, and I was fortunate to be able to do two weeks at Cliveden House Hotel, and I’ve never looked back.
Where did you train? Tell us more about your culinary background…
I studied with the academy of culinary arts while working at Cliveden hotel which gave me such a solid foundation.
What’s your favourite autumnal dish?
I love stews this time of year, and there is also still a good choice of vegetables to use that go with anything you want slow cook. Our pig cheek dish on the menu shows this perfectly.
What can guests expect from a meal at Loyal Tavern?
Simple, seasonal comfort food. We want to cook good honest food that has a little originality to it.
What inspired you to launch the venue?
It’s something I’ve always wanted and now have an excellent opportunity to work with Adam White. For some reason, a lot of people put me under the umbrella of fine dining and would love to show a simpler side to me.
What does hospitality mean to you?
Being hospitable is key. So many restaurants concentrate on themselves and not their guests. For me that just arrogant. It’s about trying to give the customer the best experience as possible.
Name your three favourite restaurants.
Kricket, The Quality Chop house, The Clove Club.
Do you have any role models?
Inside the industry, it’s the chefs I’ve worked with, and you never stop learning from them no matter the age or skill level they are at. Outside… it’s Clint Eastwood. He’s the coolest man in the planet.
What advice would you offer to aspiring chefs?
Work hard and be passionate. There are very few people in this world that don’t have to work so you may as well do something you enjoy.
What do you think is 2019’s biggest food trend?
That’s hard to say as it’s difficult to predict trends before they happen, but I see too many restaurants jumping on bandwagons and copy ideas that are on-trend rather than trying to do something original.
Try a taste of Tom’s cooking at Loyal Tavern, open now.
171-173 Bermondsey St, Bermondsey, London SE1 3UW