Culi­nary keep­sakes

Grandad’s sweet jar and a photo of a chef show­down are trea­sured by Tom Aikens

The Guardian - Cook - - A Cook’s Kitchen - Tom Aikens is an award­win­ning chef and restau­ra­teur; tomaikens.co.uk

We didn’t do any­thing to this place when we ar­rived five years ago. We were mov­ing house, hav­ing our first child, and I was re­open­ing a restau­rant af­ter a big re­fur­bish­ment – it’s pos­si­bly the worst three things you could be do­ing at the same time in the space of two weeks. The kitchen was a lit­tle bit smaller than we’d have liked, but it works. My wife, Justine, is metic­u­lously or­gan­ised, mak­ing sure every­thing is tidy. And I am too.

The top cab­i­nets are de­voted to dry goods and sta­ples. I do a lot of bak­ing with the kids, so there’s one cup­board full of flavoured su­gars, sprin­kles and co­coa pow­der. An­other is full of all kinds of flour – high-pro­tein white, all-grain, rye, spelt – for bread­mak­ing. On top of the cab­i­nets, above my head, I’ve two jars of kom­bucha (1). A friend gave me the starter and I love it, flavoured with mango, cin­na­mon, mint and ver­bena, cit­rus peel …

Around the hob, we’ve all our kil­ner jars (2) with spices and herbs, dif­fer­ent flavoured salts. I like to have them where I can eas­ily reach them.

I have dif­fer­ent sets of knives for home and for work, although at home, they are just as se­ri­ous as those I have at work. In par­tic­u­lar, there’s a set of Ger­man knives in a solid oak rack

(3) lined with steel that I de­signed in part­ner­ship with David Lin­ley, in 2008-9. We did a range of kitchen uten­sils, in­clud­ing these solid wooden chop­ping boards.

My grand­fa­ther did a lot of sim­ple home bak­ing, and I re­mem­ber him al­ways us­ing this pes­tle and mor­tar (4) for grind­ing in­gre­di­ents. Hav­ing it in my kitchen is a nice me­mento. He also used this sugar jar (5) for sweet­ies, and I’ve con­tin­ued us­ing it for snacks for the girls – but only when they’re good. Which isn’t that of­ten at the mo­ment. They are three-and-a-half and five­and-a half, and con­stantly squab­bling. Also they’re big enough now to grab a chair and help them­selves. We’re go­ing to have to do some­thing about that …

Corny as it is, on fam­ily hol­i­days it’s quite fun to buy mag­nets as keep­sakes (6), so we’ve a col­lec­tion in the kitchen. The pho­to­graph on the wall (7) above was taken way back in 2007 for the Ob­server Food Monthly’s Christ­mas cover. It was Gor­don Ram­say in the mid­dle be­ing Je­sus, and all the other rab­ble be­ing dis­ci­ples about to over­throw him: Mar­cus Ware­ing, Gior­gio Lo­catelli, An­gela Hart­nett … all peo­ple I’ve known a long time. The pho­tog­ra­pher, John Rear­don, told us all: “Just go at it, I’ll snap away.” So, we did. We started a food fight, and this was the re­sult.

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