Chef Name: Adam Handling
Awards: Scottish Young Chef of the Year, 2011.
30 Under 30 To Watch, The Caterer Acorn Awards, 2013.
Chef of the Year, British Culinary Federation, 2014.
Newcomer Restaurant of the Year, Food & Travel Reader Awards, 2015.
Scottish Chef of the Year, 2015.
Best Restaurant of the Year – London, and Best Restaurant of the Year, Food & Travel Awards, 2017.
Best Fine Dining Restaurant, Foodism 100 Awards, 2017.
Three AA Rosettes at the AA Hospitality Awards, 2017.
Recipient of the Bib Gourmand in 2017.
How old were you when you started cooking professionally?
I started out at Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland as their first ever trainee chef when I was 16. They actually offered me the job when I was 15, but my mum said I had to stay in school to finish my GCSEs. They held the position for me, and I joined ten days after my 16th birthday.
What’s your earliest and fondest first memory of food?
Making chocolate truffles with my mother when I was 12.
Which chefs inspire you most and why?
I’m inspired by lots of chefs, but Sat Bains, Massimo Bottura, Michel Roux Jr and Monica Galetti have been real inspirations. I was mentored by Massimo and it really made me think about and look at food differently to reflect my own personal experiences. I’d say that’s probably one of the biggest influences on my cooking. I’m also constantly looking to see what other chefs are doing, especially younger and up-and-coming chefs who are doing new and exciting things in the industry.
What are your two favourite cookbooks and why?
Too Many Chiefs Only One Indian by Sat Bains. I’d love to work in Sat Bains’ kitchen as he’s a huge inspiration of mine. I also love Eleven Madison Park: The Next Chapter: Stories & Watercolours, Recipes & Photographs. That restaurant is doing incredible things.
Which two ingredients could you not live without?
Cauliflower is one of my favourite ingredients to use in my cooking, which surprises some people because they have such horrible memories of over-boiled cauliflower from school dinners! But with a little creativity and the right cooking, cauliflower can be so delicious. My tip would be to try charring it – amazing flavour!
Testing the combination of different flavours is a big part of my cooking style, and chocolate always offers good opportunities for me to do that. There are so many different things you can do when cooking with chocolate, and so many different flavour combinations. Not just the usual suspects, but really unusual and surprising flavours too. Strangely enough, I’m not usually a huge fan of overly sweet things but I like to combine sweet and savoury flavours to create something new and exciting, and chocolate is perfect for that.
What is your favourite comfort food to cook at home?
I feel like this surprises most people, but my go-to comfort food is cheesy beans on toast with sausages from a tin, or a tin of Heinz tomato soup. Understated, but sometimes the simplest things are the most delicious!
If you could eat at any Michelin star restaurant in the world today, where would it be and why?
It’s not got a Michelin star yet (although it should!), but I think Core by Clare Smyth is without doubt one of the best restaurants in London at the moment – the food is unbelievable.
And who would you take as your guest?
I’d have to say my grandmother. Sadly she didn’t get to see how far I’ve come, but I’d like to think she’d be proud of what I’ve achieved.
What do you look for in a good chef?
I’d want to see that they were innovative, ambitious and honest.
What advice would you give to chefs starting their career paths now?
Always write everything down, always ask the question ‘why?’, always do your research on an ingredient and always, always taste!
Chef Adam Handling is the Chef Owner of the Adam Handling Restaurant and Bar Group, which is made up of restaurants Frog by Adam Handling and The Frog Hoxton, bars Eve Bar and Iron Stag, and sustainable deli and coffee shop, Bean & Wheat. Adam was recently appointed as Executive Chef at the new Belmond Cadogan Hotel, which is due to open at the end of the year in Chelsea.
Address: 34-35 Southampton St, London
Telephone: +44 207 199 8370