Chef’s top tables: Tom Aikens

The youngest British chef to have scooped two Michelin stars, Tom Aikens’ global casual dining empire includes Dubai’s Pots, Pans & Boards


Benu, San Francisco

Chef Corey Lee has brought all his magic to Benu. Having worked with Thomas Keller (The French Laundry) for many years, he has now made his own name great. You are completely spoilt in San Francisco because of the amount of two- and three-Michelin-star restaurants, but Benu is the best. Lee shows a magnificent example of individuality on each plate, with breathtaking creativity.

Favourite dish: The 16-course tasting menu – it’s out of this world.


L’Effervescence, Tokyo

A good friend of mine recommended L’Effervescence after meeting chef Shinobu Namae when at The Fat Duck. His food is created using a wonderful combination of modern and classic techniques, and is very clean and pure. When I ate here I had an amazing appetizer of porcini mousse, kujo neji (scallion) foam, kawahagi tartare, with mead and apple sorbet and it all went uphill from there.

Favourite dish: Four-hours cooked Tokyo turnip, parsley, Basque ham and brioche.


L’Arpege, Paris

Alain Passard is such an inspiration to me. An incredible chef who I really admire. Here you’re treated to an amazing meal created from fabulous homegrown (chef’s own gardens) produce.

I don’t think there is another chef like Alain Passard, who truly understands the greatness of vegetables.

His tomato tart uses the juiciest tomatoes and yet he manages to keep the pastry totally crisp – I just don’t know how he does it.

Favourite dish: Tomato tart.


On my wish list…

Niko Romito’s Reale, which he runs with his sister. It’s housed inside a 16th-century former monastery in Castel di Sangro, Italy, and is a gem.