Tom Aikens’ Urban Agriculture

Snapshots and Thoughts on Seasonal Cooking From the Michelin-Starred Chef

Tom Aikens’ Instagram pictures reveal the gastronomy pioneer’s close relationship to the dishes he creates, which often begin in his West London rooftop garden. Earning his first Michelin star at the tender age of 26 as head chef at London’s Pied à Terre, Aikens continues to make a name for himself as one of the greenest food pros in the UK, using fresh and seasonal produce in ingenious yet simple recipes, this year ranging from sumptuous cooked watermelon to langoustine with coco beans. Born in Norwich to a family of wine merchants, Aikens trained under culinary visionaries Joël Robuchon and Pierre Koffman before opening his acclaimed eponymous restaurant in London’s Chelsea in 2003. His welcome additions to the city's culinary scene have since included Tom's Terrace at Somerset House and the intimate Tom's Kitchen, where an open cuisine showcases the chef's refined take on home-grown fare. Here Aikens shares the spoils and joys of urban farming. 

What’s growing in your garden right now?
At the moment I’m growing herbs: thyme, rosemary, different types of salvia, dill and fennel.

What else can city-dwellers grow?
Herbs and salads are easy, but you can also grow more substantial things like carrots, leeks and onions. 

How do you use your own produce when cooking at home?
I use all the herbs and flowers I grow in my cooking. I make homemade ricotta which I serve with various herbs I’ve grown. It’s nice to see something you’ve planted develop into something you can then use in your cooking. Once my crop has grown I use them and replant very quickly.

What is so important about growing for yourself?
It's a good way of de-stressing—not that I talk to plants or anything, but it's nice to be among things that are growing and blossoming. It’s very rewarding.

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