Acorns 2019: Tom Booton, 26

19 June 2019 by
Acorns 2019: Tom Booton, 26

Head chef, Alyn Williams at the Westbury, London

Nominator Alyn Williams, the Westbury

Proudest moment "Becoming head chef at Alyn Williams at the Westbury. We've kept a great team together for the past two years, work in a modern way and try to give each other a decent work-life balance. From this, I've seen the quality of food go up a notch and the whole team are invested in their roles."

Greatest inspiration "My parents. They taught me to work hard and that being nice goes a long way."

Why hospitality is a great career

Essex-born Tom Booton's career began at Le Talbooth, Dedham, when he was just 15. He quickly showed his potential and, as a trainee commis chef, he won Chef of the Future at the Essex Food & Drink Awards.

After five years, he moved to London. By February 2017, having gained two years' experience at L'Autre Pied and taken time out to travel, he joined Michelin-starred Alyn Williams at the Westbury as head chef.

It's clear his business skills are as sharp as his culinary talents, as he has reduced food costs and runs a gross profit of 68%. He also streamlined the brigade from 17 to 12, judging it the optimum number needed to accommodate shift patterns, and thus reducing staff costs from £320,000 to £210,000. Staff retention is enviable, with only two chefs moving on in two years. This is down to the fact he goes over and above for his brigade, taking them out for a team lunch if they've had a particularly trying or successful service. He also regularly steps in with emotional and financial support when needed by junior staff.

Along the way, Booton has managed to squeeze in a lot of volunteer work, including cooking at charitable events. Proceeds from a recent dinner have gone to the Chefs' Forum Educational Foundation in support of young chefs, a cause close to his heart.

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