About Tom Hunt
Tom Hunt is an acclaimed eco-chef, and author of The Natural Cook. He founded the Forgotten Feast, a campaign working on projects throughout the UK, to revive our cooking heritage and help reduce food waste and Poco an award winning restaurant in Bristol.
Tom is an official chef of Feeding the 5000, a global event, which aims to highlight food waste by feeding more than 5000 people with delicious food that would otherwise have been wasted. He works closely with various food charities including FareShare, FoodCycle and StreetSmart. His mission is to prove the value of this unwanted food by using it to cook elaborate and lavish banquets.
Poco in Stokes Croft, Bristol serves seasonal tapas and features thrifty cuts of meat, sustainably sourced fish and seasonal vegetables, 75% of which have been sourced within 100 miles. One of the principal aims of the restaurant is to achieve zero waste.
Tom was one of the first chefs to be asked to Join the ‘Slow Food’ Chef Alliance. alongside chefs such as Richard Corrigan, Angela Hartnett and Fergus Henderson.
Tom’s food is inspired by his travels around the world, adapted for an English kitchen, utilising local ingredients. Keeping true to his zero waste ethos Tom cooks from Nose to Tail or as he calls it Root to fruit, using every part of a fruit and vegetable, offal, foraged foods and gleaning vegetables from the land.
Tom has been cooking passionately for the past 14 years. He began his career with Ben and Jake Hodges (formerly of The River Cafe and Moro). He then spent many years travelling in Europe, Latin America, and Asia and loves cooking world cuisine, while holding onto his sustainable ethos through using the highest quality seasonal British produce. On return to the UK, he was involved with the formative years of River Cottage, working as a course leader, and demonstrator. He worked behind the scenes as a food stylist with photographer Simon Wheeler on the River Cottage cookbooks and Keo films.
How I Cook
I love the way cooking and dining create celebration and community, bringing people together. My food is served on big sharing platters full of tasting morsels for people to share and pass. I bring the outdoors into the kitchen, utilising ancient and primeval forms of cooking, like earth ovens, and foraging.
The foundation of my cooking experience is Spanish and Italian. My first chef and best friend Ben Hodges taught me from a strong Spanish influence. He lived in the Granada province with his mother while growing up, so our food was really hearty. We cooked rustic dishes like fabada, bacalhau salad and caponata. We spent three years working together travelling around little Spanish pueblos, collecting samples of delicious organic olive oils, recipes and taste memories before returning for the festive season to cook all day and night serving up what we’d learnt.
Ben now lives in the Philippines cooking simple food and running an eco-farm. Ben showed me that the provenance of food was important and that good organic seasonal produce could not be bettered for quality and freshness.
I base my menus on the seasons, I have a simple method of creating a menu – Study the seasonal ingredients (from wild foraging to cultivated veggies and game) – pick what seems instantly inspiring or I’m told is a particularly good year for – Haazzzarrr! a menu appears. I’ve taken to writing menus and ideas in a sketchbook, it helps me expand on ideas creatively with drawings and flowing text.
Caring for the environment has always been paramount to how I operate a business. In our kitchens we minimise waste by preparing not only meat but vegetables with thrift in mind. One might serve the beetroot leaves wilted alongside the roasted beets for instance, or keep veg offcuts for a stock. All other waste is composted and recycled.