Thomas Straker

Thomas Straker | Source: Timeout

Thomas Straker: The Social Media Chef Bringing Gourmet Cooking to TikTok

Learn to cook. Eat Better.

Thomas Straker, the latest gourmet star of social media, has a motto that’s simple and relatable. He represents a new wave of young chefs appeasing the online appetite for short snackable videos that are both entertaining and informative.

His approach to food is honest, uncomplicated and produce-driven, a modern era chef swapping the commercial kitchen for the social media camera.

And the 31-year-old London-based chef is changing the way people are learning to cook – not via a traditional cookbook but for free on Instagram and TikTok.

To his audience of 142,000 Instagram followers, the casuals t-shirts, messy but calculated cooking and down-to-earth vibes are a welcome and relatable watch. On TikTok, his fanbase grows to 189.3K followers, no surprise when you scan his thread full of videos where he’s “cooking food you want to eat.”

@thomas_straker Tasty business #TikTokKitchen #FYP #FoodTikTok #CookWithMe ♬ original sound – Thomas Straker

Front and foremost is a love of food.

My food reflects the deep passion that I have for incredible produce that is cooked with simplicity and flair. I believe that quality cooking should be accessible to all and I want to help elevate your home cooking with my knowledge of the kitchen. Along the way, I hope that you will come to share my pursuit of quality local produce and seasonal cooking.

Source: Basic Rights

Unlike many of today’s social media stars, Tom is classically trained in his craft. Spending time cutting his teeth at Michelin-starred The Ledbury, and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal as well as becoming head chef at Casa Cruz in Notting Hill – his recipes are backed by real-world knowledge and experience.

His culinary career started with an apprenticeship at The Dorchester Hotel, London gaining experience under Alain Ducasse’s eponymous three-star Michelin restaurant there. The young talent then gravitated to working for Brett Graham at The Ledbury in Notting Hill then moving to gain experience with Heston Blumenthal at Dinner and at the Mandarin Oriental, Knightsbridge – both two-star Michelin restaurants.

His latest project, Acre – Tom’s first restaurant ‘curates a seasonal dining experience where guests are able to try his food fresh from a professional kitchen.’ The Acre London promises a fuss-free eating experience with a focus on sustainability and seasonality. Due to open in March 2020, unfortunately, the shutdown of the hospitality industry put a pause to his plans with a rescheduled opening date yet to be announced.

Here’s a couple of his gourmet recipes to try at home.

Thomas Straker – Paccheri with Girolles and Parmesan

Ingredients

350g Paccheri 
400g Girolles 
100g Butter 
4 Cloves garlic (peeled and grated)
50ml Olive oil
200ml Chicken stock 
1 bunch Chopped parsley 
100g Parmesan 
1 lemon juiced
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Prep the girolles, by trimming the stalks and then wash a couple of times in water, dry on a clean tea towel.
  2. Cook the pasta in well salted water, until al dente.
  3. Pan fry the mushrooms in a pan with olive oil for a couple of minutes, add the butter and garlic and cook for a minute. 
  4. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. 
  5. Add the cooked pasta.
  6. Toss well and add the chopped parsley and freshly grated parmesan.
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper and lemon juice.
  8. Serve on warm plates, and finish with more parmesan.

Thomas Straker – Caponata with Mozzarella

Ingredients

4 large balls of buffalo mozzarella
2 red onion (sliced) 
3 sticks celery (thick sliced)
2 cloves garlic (grated)
2 aubergines (2cm dice)
2 good quality beef heart tomatoes (or 1 tin peeled plum tomatoes) (roughly chopped)
2 tbsp sultanas 
60g pine nuts 
2 tbsp sugar 
4 tbsp red wine vinegar 
1 handful mint (chopped)
1 handful parsley (chopped)
Salt to taste 
100ml olive oil 
1 litre veg oil for frying 

Method

  1. Start By prepping all the vegetables 
  2. Toast pine nuts in a pan gently or in the oven at 160 deg c for 8mins.
  3. Soak the raisins in boiling water 
  4. In a deep saucepan add the vegetable oil and bring up to 180 degrees c 
  5. Add the diced aubergine and fry until golden brown and soft. 
  6. Drain on kitchen paper to remove excess oil.

Part 2

  1. In a large sauté pan set over medium heat add a good glue of olive oil and sweat down the red onion for a couple of minutes and then add the celery, cook for a further 4 minutes with no colour, at this point add the sugar and red wine vinegar and cookout quickly reducing the vinegar to a glaze. Now add in the chopped tomatoes, season with salt and cook quickly boiling off most of the liquid. 
  2. Now add in the chopped sultanas, pine nuts and fried aubergine, gently stir to combine, keep the aubergine as intact as possible. 
  3. Allow to cool to room temp, check the seasoning and add the chopped mint and parsley.
  4. Spoon onto plates and serve with a whole broken mozzarella.
  5. Drizzle with good quality olive oil, maldon salt and black pepper.

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