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The only problem with Tom having so much success so early on in his career was that by his early twenties he’d already spent four years in London with hardly any time off and he was starting to get restless. Fortunately, after a brief stint at Pied à Terre, owner David Moore spotted how hard he was working and suggested he went abroad for a bit. Initially travelling to Iceland to do a stage at Dill in Reykjavik, Tom next spent time in New York with fellow chef Charlie Taylor before finally settling down in Copenhagen for two months, working at Studio and then Amass. ‘It’s a much slower pace of life in Scandinavia,’ says Tom. ‘They only do a dinner service and stay up really late compared to London. It was great to see both sides.’

Tom was able to continue this slightly less hectic pace of life when he returned to London to become sous chef at Dabbous in Fitzrovia, where Ollie Dabbous took great care of his staff. ‘As well as obviously being an amazing chef Ollie was also very people-driven,’ Tom explains. ‘He gave us three days off a week so he didn’t overwork us. He’s also a great businessman and was the first person to teach me about things like council tax and price of ingredients, which I still put into practice today.’ Tom would need an impossible-to-refuse offer to draw him away from Dabbous and that ultimately came in the form of a call from Alyn Williams asking him to return to The Westbury as head chef aged just twenty-four. ‘It was too early [to become head chef] to be honest,’ muses Tom. ‘But you have to grab opportunities like that with two hands, and I remember thinking it could make me or break me.’

Taking over the kitchen of the restaurant he first stepped foot in six years earlier and being trusted by someone he respected as much as Alyn was an honour for Tom. Over the course of the three years he spent as head chef at The Westbury, he retained the restaurant’s Michelin star and started imparting his own influences onto the menu. So when the opportunity came about to help relaunch The Grill at The Dorchester, Tom was able to be very specific about his vision. ‘I was happy at The Westbury and wasn’t looking for a job,’ he smiles. ‘So I thought I may as well ask for everything I wanted and if they said no it wouldn’t matter. But they just kept saying yes! Alyn was really happy for me though.’ Tom spent three months building a team (many of whom he worked with at The Westbury), helping with the redesign of the space and developing a menu that showcased his own style of food. ‘I wanted to do simply plated, precise plates of food using beautiful ingredients,’ he explains. ‘It’s harder doing simple food than doing powders, oils and foams because you’ve got nowhere to hide when cooking a sweetbread or a rib-eye.’

The Grill at The Dorchester relaunched in 2019 with Tom at the helm – the youngest head chef in the restaurant’s kitchen – and was quickly met with a flurry of fantastic reviews, praising the chef’s cookery. Before reaching the age of thirty, Tom Booton has already achieved more than many chefs do throughout their entire career and is showing no signs of slowing down. It’s anyone’s guess as to where he’ll be in another thirty years.