In his first book, From Nature to Plate, the Edinburgh-born Kitchin says that he knew he wanted to be a chef by the age of 13. He studied Catering at Perth College (returning for the 2013 series of The Chef's Protege) before securing an eye-opening placement at the Gleneagles Hotel.
From there he moved on to London to work for the figure he frequently refers to as simply ‘chef’, Pierre Koffmann, and has described at much length the determination needed to work for a chef with 3 Michelin stars.
‘Working for him (Koffmann) was one of the hardest, most gruelling things I’ve ever experienced, but at the same time it was the best school I have ever attended.’
France was his next destination, where he worked for Guy Savoy in Paris and Alain Ducasse in Monaco - both of whom held three Michelin stars. He eventually returned to Edinburgh and opened his first restaurant, The Kitchin, in the summer of 2006, inspired by his mentor Koffmann’s advice to ‘cook what you want, cook what you love’.
As you might expect from his career history, Kitchin has a classic French technique, which he uses to extract maximum efficacy from prized Scottish produce. His close relationships with suppliers means he gets the inside track on underrated cuts and ingredients, which he uses to stunning effect in his signature pig’s head and langoustine dish.
The Michelin inspectors were suitably impressed, awarding Kitchin a Michelin star six months after opening, making Kitchin, at 29, the youngest ever chef-proprietor to win the award.
In June 2012 Tom Kitchin received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Edinburgh Napier University for his significant contribution to Scottish Food Culture.