Avant-Garde! Battle of the Chefs

28 Mar 2014
2 min read
Two Michelin-starred chefs battle it out over FOUR questions to find out which is more avant-garde | Presenting James Close v. Tom Aikens…
James Close

What’s the most scientific piece of equipment in your kitchen?

Probably our Sous Vide water bath. Our kitchen is tiny so we need all the space we can get – I would love to explore with more equipment but with my style of cooking and space it only allows me to use more traditional cooking methods. (0.5)

Are you passionate about liquid nitrogen?

We had it in the restaurant for six months last year, but it was never actually used in any dishes at the restaurant!! What with my food philosophy revolving around simplicity, liquid nitrogen just did not fit within its parameters. I like my food to do the talking, not the products. (0 – close to a minus point for such liquid nitrogen-rejection!)

Could you describe your cooking style for us?

Simple. When you have the best, freshest fish, why spoil it with theatre and drama? A fish should look like and taste like a fish. Does this mean I’m not avant-garde? Maybe – not to say I don’t enjoy eating it when I visit other restaurants. (0)

What’s your favourite meal to make at home?

When cooking at home you can’t beat the classics, chicken pie or fish pie – cooked well – nothing better after a hard week in the kitchen! (0)

Tom Aikens

What’s the most scientific piece of equipment in your kitchen?

I’m not one for over doing it on the equipment, as I am still a firm believer of using many traditional methods mixed with some modern techniques. So I use labour saving devices like pressure cookers or pressurised storage containers for aerating savoury ices. (1)

Are you passionate about liquid nitrogen?

I am passionate about everything I use! It’s a variance of cooking that’s interesting and different when using nitrogen. It’s not as though it’s a new thing, and because it’s now more readily available and people are far more in tune with how to use it. (1)

Describe your cooking style…

My cooking style is created from mainly French roots, but I’m a firm believer in making something unique and different in style and taste. My style comes mostly from the seasonality of herbs, fruits and vegetables. This is the most important factor in creating new dishes and menus. (0)

What’s your favourite meal to make at home?

Either a very simple home roast like a leg of lamb or a sirloin of beef with all the trimmings or a simple homemade lasagne (the pasta has to be made from scratch and the fillings with caramelised onions and beef mince, a little garlic, red wine and beef stock). (0)

And The Winner Is…

Tom Aikens – 2 |James Close – 0.5

With a resounding ‘AVANT GARDE’, takes the prize, although we take our hat off to for being so adamant.