Meet the Team: Tom Ince
To kick off our meet the team series, we sat down for a chat with Head Chef, Tom Ince.
Tell us about your role
I’ve been working for the hotel since 2018—before we became Kimpton Clocktower—and from 2020 I moved into the role of The Refuge Head Chef. I’m responsible for the creative development of all food menus coming from the kitchen, everything from breakfast and room service to bar food and the main dining menu. Oh, and let’s not forget the Sunday roast! I’m also partly responsible for the financial performance of the department as a whole, especially when it comes to The Refuge kitchen. I’m a bit of a ‘dad’ to the team too, which includes managing holidays and hours, and everyone’s personal development, as well as working with the guys and girls on the ground every day. I enjoy being there to help out with things and just generally sharing my knowledge.
What’s your favourite thing about working for The Refuge?
The people. 100%. Working with my colleagues feels like spending time with friends. When you work 60-70 hours a week you really have to get on with the people you work with, otherwise it feels like every day is a chore. The guys who bring their excitement about food to the table inspire me to work harder every day, and in turn, drive my creativity. I’d never trade that feeling of camaraderie for an office job, ever!
What’s the proudest moment of your career?
So many. Winning my first rosette in my restaurant is definitely right up there, but so many good memories have been forged here at The Refuge. Winning the Manchester Hoteliers Award was amazing, but in general, being chosen to represent and drive forward our fantastic restaurant has been a massive success and a proud moment for me.
Tell us something we don’t know about you…
Believe it or not, I did Medicine at Leeds for two years, then went to do Biomedical Sciences at Liverpool and dropped out after a year. I found that I’m not an academic learner, even though I did well in school. My focus shifts too much and I end up coming off the rails! Food was always the backburner passion that I then turned into a career.
Let’s talk a little bit about you and food:
Your all-time favourite item from the menu and why (food or drink)?
The octopus. It’s a total winner and a real team effort dish, mostly inspired by our chef, Saroj from Nepal.
What country is on your food bucket list?
Japan. Seiji Yamamoto has long been an icon of mine. As well as Grant Achatz in Chicago, USA – both would be amazing visits.
What’s your go-to drink/dish when eating out?
Good old steak and an Old Fashioned cocktail. Or a tasting menu.