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Chef Profile: Thomas Youell

Thomas Youell
The Palomar, London
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
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Executive Sous Chef at the acclaimed Palomar in London’s Soho, Thomas Youell has cooked in more than 20 countries and overcome a near-fatal accident to play an integral part in the restaurant’s award-winning success.
Chef Thomas’ role in designing menus, sourcing ingredients with a careful eye for provenance, not to mention cooking live for diners  - with his inimitable theatrical style - have all contributed to The Palomar becoming one of London’s most talked-about eateries in just two short years.
A string of awards, won during his time, include: Best Restaurant - Observer Food Monthly Awards, 2015; Michelin Bib Gourmand, 2015/14; Tatler Restaurant Of The Year, 2015; GQ Magazine - Best Restaurant, 2015 & 2 AA Rosettes held since 2014.
A passion for good food and cooking is hard-wired into Thomas Youell’s DNA. Drawing inspiration from his granddad, a chef in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, Thomas was determined to be just like him. After leaving school Youell earned a place at London’s prestigious Westminster Catering College where he began his journey following in his granddad’s footsteps.
Now with over 15 years of cheffing under his belt Thomas has cooked his way across the globe in the belief that every chef worth their Himalayan pink salt must have as much exposure to a diversity of cultures, ingredients and methods as possible. From cooking at a boxing camp in Thailand to living for a year on a Tuscan farm, to working in rice fields as part of an apprenticeship at the Shangri La Hotel, Tokyo, Thomas has come to appreciate the role that food plays in shaping different cultures, countries and, of course, customers.
Just five years ago however, much of this might not have been possible.
Involved in a near-fatal car accident, through no fault of his own, Thomas was hit by a drunk driver on his way home from an evening out. His car rolled over twice leaving him with a broken neck and crushed knuckles.
Unable to work, and uncertain if he would ever walk, let alone cook, again, Thomas spent his rehabilitation period self-styling a daily routine of mental and physical exercises designed to speed his way back to the kitchen and the work he loves. With nerves of steel and razor-sharp focus Thomas was determined that a future without cooking was not an option. He mentally and physically willed himself back to wellness.
Twelve months later, to the astonishment of his doctors. Thomas was back at the stove.
When not getting down and dirty milking goats or picking his way through a paddy field, Thomas is equally at ease at the opposite end of the spectrum. During a stint as Executive Chef at The Bank of England, catering celebrity charity balls and feeding Britain’s leading sports men and women at The Lawn Tennis Association were part of his daily routine. Thomas counts Brad Pitt, David Beckham and Christian Scott Thomas amongst the many A-listers he has cooked for.
Thomas' tip for aspiring chefs is to travel, travel then travel some more. He reckons his globe-trotting days opened his mind to food cultures, ingredients and different kitchen work ethics. 
"Even though London has one of the most vibrant restaurant scenes in the world, I've still got itchy feet - I dont think  my globe-trotting is over just yet."  
Thomas Youell, Executive Sous Chef, The Palomar, 34 Rupert Street, London W1D  6DN
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6 April 2016
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