HE’s been slowly expanding the waistlines of discerning diners ravenous for his mouth-watering delights.
But now celebrity chef Tom Kitchin is set to grow his culinary empire by extending his flagship Capital eatery.
The Michelin-starred cook has drawn up plans to swell The Kitchin in Leith by a third as part of a major revamp that will see the venue envelop the now defunct Chop Chop next door – a restaurant made famous by foul-mouthed chef Gordon Ramsay.
The revamp – due to be completed in January 2015 – will see the Kitchin’s galley double in size and 60-cover dining room dramatically extended.
Mr Kitchin, who was the youngest person in the world to be awarded a Michelin star aged 29, hailed the plans as an “exciting time” for his business.
“The expansion it is going to give us that space to give staff the right working conditions and to allow us to have a bigger kitchen,” he said.
“What’s really important is the kitchen, as it is the engine behind everything.”
When the restaurant opened in June 2006, the team used a second-hand stove along with plates and cutlery used by Mr Kitchin’s former mentor, renowned French chef Pierre Koffman, at his three-Michelin starred restaurant La Tante Claire.
Now, customers must book a table a month in advance after the renowned Edinburgh chef and his wife Michaela began slowly upgrading the premises as the diners flooded in.
Mr Kitchin, who also runs Stockbridge gastro pub the Scran and Scallie and the Castle Terrace Restaurant along with chef Dominic Jack, said the “winning formula” for diners was to create a space that “feels small and intimate while making the premises bigger”.
The secret of his success is constantly evolving to keep customers coming back for more, he said.
“The challenge is to give a different customer experience, while staying true to our roots,” said Mr Kitchin.
“After all, you are only as good as your last meal.”
Despite cooking for royalty and rock stars over the years, the award-winning chef felt the pressure last weekend when he cooked for David and Victoria Beckham, along with chef Gordon Ramsay at Gilmerton House, East Lothian.
He said: “It was stressful and exciting. I was under pressure but it was great for me to do. David Beckham is the real deal, he is a real gentleman and he is such an iconic figure to so many people. The thing that impressed me was as soon as he arrived, he walked around and shook hands with all the staff.”
The refurbishment work and expansion will take place during The Kitchin’s annual closure after Christmas, and the restaurant is set to reopen again in January 2015.
Mr Kitchin would not confirm whether he has an itch to expand his empire into other cities.
The renovation comes as Chop Chop restaurant, which featured in chef Gordon Ramsay’s TV programme The F Word, announced the closure of its Leith branch last month.
The popular eatery posted on its Facebook page: “We have now closed our Leith restaurant as part of an exciting plan to grow the Chop Chop brand. We are now focusing on city centre locations and hope to be opening at a new location in Edinburgh within the next 12 months.”
The restaurant chain, which has a branch in Haymarket, is looking to build its empire by opening in Glasgow and expand across the UK.