Tom Aikens is in town

For chef Tom Aikens, relaxed dining with simple, homely food is the way forward – and it’s a concept he aims to deliver at his first restaurant in Dubai

What was the idea behind your new restaurant, Pots, Pans and Boards?

When I was approached to come up with a proposal, I thought back to my childhood. I wanted the space to be somewhere casual and accessible, with simple, tasty food.

What sort of atmosphere can we expect to find?

Very laid-back with sharing dishes presented in the middle of the table, family-style. There’s still a place for fine dining, but I think the future of eating out is an informal one. Over recent years there has been a shift; people want to eat out two or three times a week, rather than once a month.

With restaurants in London, Hong Kong and now Dubai, how do you maintain overall control?

One of the nice things about having a few restaurants is that I can reward the chefs who have worked with me for a number of years. Putting them in charge of one of the kitchens is a great way to help them develop.

Looking back on your career, what dish are you most proud of creating?

My seven-hour braised shoulder of lamb has become a bit of a signature recipe – a fantastic one-pot dish that’s full of flavour. It’s been on the menu at the Tom’s Kitchen in Chelsea, London, from the start and will stay there for ever.

Do you cook at home?

I do, at the weekends, when I’ve got a bit of time. My oldest daughter is three years old and she loves baking. Her favourite thing to make is gingerbread men, which could be to do with my hair colour. I really enjoy making sourdough – it takes the whole day and I find the process very relaxing.

What drives you?

I’ve been a chef for 25 years now and while it’s not always easy, I do genuinely love the job. These days I also get a kick out of creating fresh concepts and travelling the world. I love trying new dishes and ingredients and thinking about how I can add them to my own library of ideas.

Can you describe your perfect meal?

It would be really simple and relaxed. We’d start with some fantastic scallops, cooked on the barbecue with nothing more than a bit of garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. After that, I’d have my seven-hour lamb served with green beans and mash. I’d finish with hot apple pie and vanilla ice cream – what more do you need?