About Time You Met: Adam Smith, Executive Chef at Coworth ParkBy Alicia Grimshaw
After being named as the Roux Scholar in 2012, and claiming the Observer Food Monthly Young Chef of the Year 2012, and Craft Guild of Chefs Restaurant Chef of the Year 2015, Adam has brought his classic British flavour combinations to Coworth Park. Not long into his role as executive chef at this much-loved Ascot hotel, Adam has recently been awarded his first Michelin star. We sat down with Adam to discuss food, and celebrating this incredible achievement.
Hey Adam! Can you tell us a little more about your journey climbing the chef ladder?
Thank you! I started working in the kitchens of luxury establishments when I was 17 years old; I joined The Ritz after culinary college, and later moved from The Ritz to The Devonshire Arms in Yorkshire. It was a natural move to my current position as executive chef at Coworth Park where I now oversee all of the food operations on the property, including Restaurant Coworth Park, The Barn, in-room dining and events. It’s a huge operation but an exciting challenge for me to take on.
You’ve worked in some amazing kitchens include The Ritz and The Devonshire Arms – what person or place has inspired your cooking style the most?
From a young age I’ve always had a real passion for food. It was at The Devonshire Arms where I really began to develop my own style of cooking; however my true inspiration is John Williams MBE executive, who I spent 10 years working with. John has been the main influence on my cooking style. I’m constantly looking for more ways to develop my skills and improve as a chef, which is why I insist on still spending as much time in the kitchen as possible.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I ever received, which I must say took a while to sink in, is when composing a dish, keep it simple, always look and ask yourself the question ‘is it needed?’ Look to see if there’s an ingredient or element you can take away, if not ask ‘what can we add?’
Congrats on winning your first Michelin Star – how do you feel?
For me, it is the realisation of a lifelong ambition to achieve a Michelin star and even more special that it has happened here at Coworth Park. I am thrilled for myself and the team who work tirelessly front and back of house to make sure we meet and exceed the expectations of our guests in Restaurant Coworth Park. Having been at Coworth for little over a year this amazing award is testament to the hard work that our team put in, and I am very proud that we have done so in a relatively short space of time
Will you be doing anything special to celebrate?
Celebrating with the team and my family too. It’s important that everyone at Coworth Park gets to celebrate this amazing achievement and it’s truly been a team effort.
What can people expect from your food at Coworth Park?
I want to build on Coworth Park’s already fantastic reputation and make Coworth Park a culinary destination. We offer seasonal quality ingredients prepared with great attention to detail – which in turn creates a truly memorable experience. Whether our guests are with us for a special occasion, or simply just a country getaway, the important thing for me is that all of them leave with a longing to return.
How long does it take for you to create new dishes? Have you ever created dishes that haven’t worked?
Creating new dishes is a process that can take days or even months to complete; it totally depends on the type of dish. I would say that 99% of my initial ideas are completely changed in one way or another before they make it onto the menu.
What do you think the big food trend of 2017 is going to be?
I hope in 2017 we see a trend focused on reducing food waste. This needs to be at the producer level, but also chefs need to utilise more of their ingredients by using their creativity. I know that aubergine is being tipped as the new ‘no carb’ carb so this could be extremely popular in 2017.
What are your favourite ingredients to cook with?
I love working with shellfish and herbs, and a perfect example of that is my favourite dish, the Exmoor caviar tart with Cornish crab, yuzu and cucumber available at Restaurant Coworth Park. In creating my dishes for the menu I wanted to encompass the herbs that are grown on our estate. My style is using quality ingredients which can shine on the plate and a particular favourite of mine is the caviar tart for which I use both corn flowers and marigolds from the meadow, which bring a lovely colour and flavour to the dish.
Favourite place in London for breakfast:
Duck and Waffle is a great breakfast spot as it offers stunning views across the city and great food.
Favourite place in London for coffee:
I usually pick something up from Parcafe at The Dorchester, but Monmouth Coffee is also an old favourite of mine.
Coworth Park, Blacknest Road Ascot Berkshire, SL5 7SE UK.
For more information on Coworth Park, visit their website here.