Tom Kerridge discusses his partnership with England Rugby

After a successful first season partnering with Twickenham's Lock restaurant, 2-Michelin starred chef Tom Kerridge will be bringing a new menu to the stadium's hospitality venue for the 2020 Guinness Six Nations.

You're a lifelong rugby fan. Did that make it an easy decision to partner with Twickenham?
Incredibly easy - the Home of England Rugby and a wonderful stadium steeped in history. It represents everything that is fantastic about English sport with a worldwide reputation - what a great space to be cooking in.

What were your first impressions of The Lock and the East Stand?
I was absolutely blown away not only by how well thought out and beautiful the design is front of house but also behind the scenes. They have created a space that allows chefs and front of house operators to work to the best of their ability.

It must be quite different catering for up to 1,700 people compared to a typical restaurant. What did you have to do differently? What were the biggest challenges?
Scale is the biggest thing. However, we have done this a number of times and we are quite lucky that our food at The Hand & Flowers, although its 2 Michelin star, is built on flavour and produce, driven by simplicity. So if we could reach those same flavour profiles, whether it's for 50 covers or 1700 covers, ensuring that everything tastes amazing and has the same heritage, allows us the give that true taste of authenticity to a much bigger market.

Would you give up one of your Michelin stars for an England cap?
Very, very tough question. For a single England cap, probably not. However, if it was a single England cap in the World Cup Final with a winner's medal, I may very well consider it.

Which position would you like to play in the England team?
Growing up I was always a tight-head prop and that's the only position I know so I'd stick with that. Although I'm not sure my knees and back can put up with the sheer brutality that front row forwards have to deal with now! Also, I quite like my ears…

What were your goals when designing the menus?
To ensure that we encompass Great British food with the ability to showcase flavours but making sure that it appeals to over 1,700 people who could be from anywhere in the world.

You must have enjoyed your partnership with Twickenham Stadium as you'll be back for the 2020 Guinness Six Nations.
Absolutely loved every minute of it, because the food helps create and be a part of something that is an amazing day out. It's different to being in a restaurant where you just go for something to eat, here we are a part of something that lasts all day and hopefully adds to the experience of an England win.

Which aspects of the menus worked well that you might bring back and what will you look to do differently next year?
British beef plays a huge part, everybody loves it and it's something that we are recognised for around the world so that will definitely make an appearance. I don't think there is anything we could do differently, we can just learn and grow, tiny little points of styles of service and prep work to try and make everything run a little smoother. Little tweaks every time to make it better.

Do you enjoy getting out into the restaurant after service to chat with guests?
Yes, I'm very fortunate that I do like people and there is a wonderful atmosphere in the room with people excited for the game and feeling a little giddy from eating some lovely food. There is nothing better than pre-match excitement and to be a part of that is amazing.

You have recently been back at Twickenham to host your own event on a non-match day. How did that compare to a match day?
Very different but as this was solely about the food and spending time with ex rugby players with anecdotes and Q&As - the room was amazing and the atmosphere was great fun.

How was it hosting alongside ex-rugby legends Kyran Bracken and Neil Back?
They were such good fun with some brilliant stories that gave an extra dimension of excitement to the room. They were both incredible hosts and hugely impressive people. I mean…they are World Cup winners!!!

To book 2020 Guinness Six Nations fixtures against Wales and Ireland - click here.

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