You've done a lot, and come far, for a 34 year old: what's the secret of your success?
I wouldn’t call it success, more just working progress…! I am too driven for my own good, headstrong and have a clear end game agenda; I keep that clearly focused and above all am one of the lucky ones who actually enjoys his job!What got you into cooking?
My mum was an excellent cook, good food was a part of home life but as I reflect I think it was watching my father work every hour possible for his business, alongside a desire to belong and be accepted. I watched and followed the developments of a then-young Marco Pierre White and into the industry I went.
My four years spent at Claridges as an apprentice
taught me to be a chef and the following years spent in restaurant
kitchens taught me to cook.You've worked in a number of high-profile kitchens, with respected chefs: what have you learned that proved invaluable in running your own business?
My two strongest influences are Philip Howard
and John Williams.
John Williams is a fierce, headstrong leader who won’t accept no for an answer; he is from the old brigade but is also and most importantly a caring and extremely nurturing man. The two qualities are very enduring. I think there are bits of him in me by force rather than nature but I’m sure I’m all the better for it!
I felt that Philip led with his passion for his product and no matter how good a cook was or how competent you felt you were, he always had the sheer craft and ability to do everything better. That was an infectious challenge, alongside his ability to continually change and remain fresh. I still think The Square
is one of the most amazing restaurants in the country.Moving your previous restaurant from Clapham to central London didn't work as planned: is the benefit of hindsight enlightening?
What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger... the closure of Thyme was the lowest point of my life and looking back now if still hurts because every day I can see clearer and clearer why and how it happened – a painful thing, hindsight!
The decision to get up again and start over was never questioned in my mind although it was extremely stressful; frightening and having to question one’s own ability on a daily basis is never easy. In a peculiar way I am glad it all happened, I spent four years with Thyme, making a name but ruining a fairly shoddy business at the same time; as they say turnover is vanity and profit is sanity.
Thankfully I met a business partner who believed I had it in me to go it over, put me on the spot to produce and thankfully we have a healthy, thriving business that we are both immensely proud of.
How would you define contemporary British cuisine?
Inside Trinity, Adam's latest success
The food at Trinity and the dishes I would stand by as being my own are all based around classic heritage cooking techniques that have been brought into a modern era, in terms of what it customers crave as an eating experience and making the best use of English seasonal produce
I think the main differences between classic cooking and that of the modern 'noughties' cooking is lightness, speed of cooking and the emphasis on seasonality and freshness.
I think there will be an increase in the growth of heritage British dishes making a comeback, furthermore the use of great British produce. In terms of British food from way-back-when its only now that chefs are starting to learn old British dishes and are in a position to bring it into a modern era. Chefs are not taught British cooking at colleges; it’s still all French classics, so there has to be a change there first. Are you a 'seasonality' man?
Yes absolutely, having your cooking governed by the seasons is one of the most enjoyable parts of the job – myself and my cooks are thriving with enthusiasm with the sight of new season asparagus
, peas and wild salmon at the moment and likewise will be glad in September where we move on with excitement to game birds
, and look forward to chestnuts
, richer cooking and braising. My monthly column for Edge magazine
centres around great seasonal cooking.Do you have an opinion on celebrity chefdom?
I think it has a lifespan! I take my hat off to those that make the most of whilst it is here and as we now live in a tabloid world, it’s obvious that the industry would make the most of it. The bit I resent slightly is the dramatization factor or extremist shows that actually deface what is a craft industry that takes years and years to become even close to good at. However, I don’t lose any sleep over it!
I will continue to do more promotion as above all I am a business man and these things have an undoubted effect on my business turnover but so far as carving a life this way, give me a stove any day, thanks!What's your favourite dish of your own invention?
If I had to choose the three dishes I would say are genuinely mine
it would have to be the much plagiarized 'pigs trotters on toast', our
most decedent of short rib cottage pie and my milk chocolate soufflé,
which is a genuine crowd pleaser. Sounds like the perfect dinner to
me... (P.S. the first two are available at Taste).
I have now been cooking on my own, so to speak, for seven years and like many other chefs who go it alone I spent the first two years reproducing the dishes I was so fiercely taught; I think it’s a pride thing and part of the road to discovery.
The following two years – and this is a fascinating trend that is very apparent in the 'untamed' chefs out there where it becomes all about shock, being clever, discovery, and boundary-breaking – is the most amazing time ever but can be counterproductive. Thankfully now I feel genuinely at peace with who I am and what I love to cook and eat, my food is first and foremost delicious and well-cooked but not governed by trends, fashion or shareholders.
Trinity’s ability to deliver well over the various services including a classic Sunday lunch, accessible and great value midweek lunch, Sunday supper club and high level dinner experience is testament to this.
Why did you participate in the Taste London festival?
Trinity's delectable pigs trotters on toast
When you run a business that relies on attracting customers to its premises, sometimes it’s a great thing to reverse the odds and take your product to your customers. It’s also a great place to be seen, great to meet up with other chefs and fascinating to be face-to-face with your customer base. You can make genuine decisions from this invaluable experience. Oh and there are some greeeeat parties...Do you think events like Taste are important?
I believe being exposed to great food is important but I’m not convinced the public buy a ticket for the education factor alone! Overall it’s a great day out in summer surrounded by great food and wine – to see Britan come that far is of great importance in itself,Plans for the future?
I am working on a book which relates to my 'Thoughts for Food' courses – we began the masterclass sessions
at Trinity and they have become a genuine part of the business; they've grown organically and deliver a great extension to the business, and they allow us to reach out into the community. This is an exciting project for me as I never wanted to do a book about Trinity or me but education is a passion of mine and this falls firmly under that umbrella.
I'd do more TV if the right TV comes along but my business partner and I believe in good old-fashioned organic growth and we will be concentrating on exploring other opportunities later in the year.Advice to budding chefs?
The more you absorb the quicker the journey.Finally, any secret cooking tips?
Sharp knives, hot pans and a clean kitchen, the rest is easy!
4 The Polygon
Clapham Old Town
T: 0207 622 1199