Chef’s Table meet with Adam Stokes

Adam Stokes is Chef/Patron of Michelin Star Restaurant Adams in Birmingham as well as owning The Oyster Club

Adam was born in the Midlands and grew up in Lincolnshire attaining a diploma in Hotel, Catering and Institutional Management at Stamford College. After finishing his studies, Adam worked as a sous chef at Hambleton Hall in Rutland. Aged only 27, Adam replaced the head chef at Glenapp Castle, South Ayrshire in 2008, which was his first job as a head of the kitchen. He won the Gourmet Menu of the Year Scottish Chef Award and the Scotland Restaurant of the Year award. After five years honing his trade at Glenapp Castle, his ambitious nature led him to open his own restaurant with his wife Natasha in Birmingham.

Restaurant Adams opened in a converted sandwich shop as a fine dining restaurant, offering a la carte dining as well as two tasting menus of five and nine courses and vegetarian options, moving to a larger location in Waterloo Street in January 2016. Adam’s has received much critical praise since opening, culminating in the awarding of a Michelin star.

Chef’s Table chatted with Adam a few weeks ago…

Question: Can you remember where and when you “got the bug” to be a Chef

A: I have always been really keen and interesting in cooking as being from a family that has always enjoyed good food. My Dad had an allotment and we also ways used to get amazing carrots, broad beans and all types of vegetables which tasted incredible and so different from the produce you would buy in the supermarket. I got the bug for cooking whilst cooking at home whilst I was young, I started cooking recipes and just trying to replicate them as well as I could to make them taste as best as I could. Later on came the experimenting part of trying new things. Once I stepped into a professional kitchen at 16 years old that was it, I loved it, I loved everything about it not just the food, the people, the different hours and especially the camaraderie.

Question: Which Chefs have influenced you in the past? and who continues to influence you now.

A: Gordon Ramsey has made an influenced on me, especially when he was opening his restaurant and filming during the Boiling Point era. An iconic hard and focussed time in the restaurants history, the passion and dedication displayed was exactly what is required to be successful. He has brought that passion and energy through to his modern day role in the industry and I really admire that.

Question: Which restaurant/s would you like to visit? (that you haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet)

A: I would be really keen to try a 3 Michelin Star restaurant in Japan to experience the finest sushi and sashimi, it really is a culture that is firmly rooted with produce leading the way.

Question: What would be your last dish (to eat) “the death row question”

A: This has changed over the years and I think it has just naturally developed and evolved into an incredible mix. It used to be a Rib-eye steak, then it was a Lobster, which then moved on to Langoustine Tails, so now I have merged them together in a Surf and Turf! So it would be a stunning Wagyu A5 Rib-Eye Steak with lightly sautéed Langoustine Tails on top served with ‘The Perfect 12’ Chips from The Oyster Club – ultimate luxury.

Question: What is the best tip/trick of the trade, you have learnt in the past 12 months? Have you been able to use and benefit from it during the current Covid-19 restrictions

A: We introduced small individual cutlery blocks in 2018 after seeing some other designs, I wanted ours to be really organic, natural and very much in tune with our cutlery. All the blocks were made individually out of American Oak and moulded round our physical cutlery 1 by 1. The reason for introducing them was to be able to produce a very slick style of service as the guest embarking on a tasting menu would have all the equipment they need to enjoy each dish. Also quite often types of cutlery would be laid that that guest would choose not to use, this way the guest has the opportunity to use whatever they wish. Now in Covid times these blocks allow there to be less visits by staff to the table.

Question: How important is a Michelin Star? Some chefs/restaurants have asked not to be included or to have awards removed, because of the pressure – your thoughts

A: We are so proud the Adam’s has been awarded a Michelin Star. I find that having a Michelin Star gives existing and prospective diners an idea as to what to expect when joining us for their experience on many levels, the food, service, price and overall quality. For others they may feel that the accolade does not fit with their current or recently changed product, the star does not belong to the restaurant it is Michelin’s and for them to decide whether your product fits with their criteria. The most important thing is to fully concentrate on the business as a whole and ensure that the guests through the door have a fabulous time and return hopefully time after time.

Question: What is your favourite dish on the Adams menu currently and why?

A: At present the first few tasters on the menu are really exciting and an interesting start to the meal. There is a Beetroot and Goats Cheese Meringue which just disappears in the mouth, a Cone of Steak Tartare which is rich and a really modern take on a classic, then a cured Mackerel which is super fresh and clean flavours.

Question: What would be on your “celebration banquet ” menu if you could create a meal and have any ingredients or style of cooking from around the world?

A: It would have to be a Fruit de Mer, a beautiful seafood platter showcasing the amazing produce that this country can produce from our waters, Oysters, Crab, Lobsters, Langoustines, Prawns….. the list goes on!.

Question: If for one night you could be invite to cook alongside any chef – past or present- who would that be and why?

A: It would be very exciting to cook alongside Marco Pierre White, a true legend of the food industry in the UK. His mannerism in the kitchen would be so unique and captivating to witness.

My Favourite Tables

Please give us the names, and why you dine there, of two restaurants you have visited a couple of times.

Restaurant 1

Chapter One – 18-19 Parnell Square, Dublin 1 Ireland “A real special experience of culinary innovation, style and technique. The food is modern and cutting edge with a luxurious feel too. The Chef’s Table immerses you in the action in the kitchen and to watch the food being finished.”

Restaurant 2

The Ritz – 150 PICCADILLY, LONDON. W1J 9BR “The ultimate in occasion, the menu has every luxury ingredient known to man. Stunning cooking and brilliant produce, sheer decadence. Not to mention the beautiful dining room as dressed up as the other diners. In the morning that I dine at The Ritz, I also tell my mum!”

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