Cooking credentials … Tom Hill’s love of cooking began as a child in the kitchen with his mother. As a professional chef, Tom has worked with a number of leading figures in the restaurant industry – he has managed kitchens for Mitch Tonks and Mark Hix, and worked with Ed Wilson of Terroir (now chef-proprietor of Brawn). He met his business partners, Clare Lattin (and Rory McCoy), whilst working together at Hix Oyster and Chophouse. Today, the pair own two restaurants: Ducksoup in London’s Soho and Rawduck in Hackney. Clare and Tom are the authors of the Ducksoup Cookbook: The Wisdom of Simple Cooking (Square Peg).
Portrait by Elena Heatherwick
Can often be found … In the kitchen or in the garden.
What’s your style of cooking? Simple and sympathetic to the main ingredient. There’s little in the way of time-consuming techniques in our restaurants – our dishes use just a few ingredients at their very best.
Where do you get your inspiration from? Always from my travels. I love Italy, Spain and Portugal and talk a lot with Clare about the Middle East, as she has travelled there quite a bit. But I also have an obsession with Asian flavours and often cook with my Chinese friend Benny Zhou. Myself, Clare and Rory (the third partner in the business) spent a month in Japan, which was hugely inspiring. I always look at the foods in season and think about what ingredients would be friends with each other. I’m also inspired by what I fancy eating at any given moment, as well as by conversations with others about what they’ve tasted recently.
Why do you love to feed people? I get real pleasure from watching people’s faces as they enjoy a good meal. Obviously, I love taking raw ingredients and turning them into something that satisfies – but I also love listening to people talk about what they are eating, whether it’s a simple yet surprising salad, or a slow-cooked meal that evokes warm, happy memories.
Photography by Kristin Perers
What’s in your cupboards? Always a good selection of seasonal veg from the farmers’ market. But I often find that when I’m home, I don’t really want plates of meat. I much prefer a light, healthy supper after a big lunch out.
What’s the difference between a good meal and a great meal? I think it comes down to the environment you’re in. Great meals, for me, are nearly always unplanned. I’ve stumbled upon some of my most memorable meals: a simple plate of food and a glass of local wine in a small wine-making village, or a simple fish restaurant by the sea. When I have a great meal in London I usually don’t return to the same restaurant for ages because I want the memory to last forever. I find that, quite often, when you have a great meal, if you return too soon, it’s often not as good.
Photography by Clare Lattin
What’s on the menu? There will be plates of brown shrimp and leek fritters in saffron aioli to nibble on, followed by sharing plates of rare hanger steak, shaved Jerusalem artichokes, salted anchovies and capers and a bright salad of pink radicchio, blood orange, salted ricotta and pistachio. The main course will be pot roast partridge, barbera, pancetta, casteluccio lentils and cavolo nero (gnocchetti, cavolo nero, pine nuts and parmesan for vegetarians). Dessert will be a buttermilk pudding, served with cardamom and rosewater poached rhubarb.
Photography by Clare Lattin