Chef to Watch: Adebola Adeshina, Chef Patron of The Chubby Castor

The Staff Canteen

From humble beginnings, Adebola ‘Ade’ Adeshina, Chef Patron of The Chubby Castor, has built a reputation for offering guests elevated fine dining and superb hospitality, through his unique blend of show-stopping dishes and recipes.

Ade started his journey in hospitality working in an East London chip shop where his passion for developing food began and took shape.

“It’s interesting coming from a fish and chip shop but I’ve always wanted to be a chef,” joked Ade.

Ade attributes his interest in cooking from his experience growing up in a Nigerian family, with his mum and five sisters, where he enjoyed helping prepare a variety of dishes for the family.

Deciding that cooking was his calling, Ade studied at Westminster Kingsway College before undertaking a year-long apprenticeship with Chris Galvin, before taking up a job at Gordon Ramsay’s Aubergine.

“I knocked on his door, I just hopped in, I said I’m looking or a job and he told me to wait for 6 weeks. I waited and he gave me a call and asked me, 'when can I start?',” Ade revealed.

Moving from East London to Battersea to take up his position at Aubergine, Ade then spent six years in total working for Gordon Ramsay Restaurants, where he cooked at the three-Michelin starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, as well as Petrus under Marcus Wareing.

From here, Ade went on to work for some of the biggest chefs in the UK; including Marco Pierre White, Phil Howard, and Eric Chavot, before going his own way opening The Lock Dining Bar in North London, and working at Parsons Restaurant in Waltham Abbey, as well as Chris Galvin’s Bistrot De Luxe.

In 2014, Ade joined The Petersham Hotel in Richmond as head chef where he met Phil Warden, enabling him to learn and develop essential managerial skills, bolstering his extensive work experience.

Talking about the skills and influences he learnt from Phil at The Petersham Hotel, Ade said: “It directed me to think in a different way rather than just being a chef doing what I want to do. I learnt it’s about bringing customers in to make sure they stay, continue and enjoy the food and the atmosphere.”

After three years at The Petersham, Ade decided to once again go his own way, opening The Chubby Castor in 2018, which he has continued to develop and elevate.

The Chubby Castor

After spending most of his life in London, Ade ventured out the capital opening his restaurant in the small village of Castor, just outside Peterborough.

Housed in a 400-year-old thatched pub, The Chubby Castor boasts modern interiors, with an attractive lounge and intimate dining space, serving forty covers.

In the kitchen, Ade’s team is made up of four chefs and two part-time members of staff.

Explaining the management of the business, Ade said: “As a chef, as a business owner, nothing is easy and it’s never easy to do anything. I’m very lucky because of my knowledge, what I’ve gone through, and the process, that I’ve managed to hold it together.”

For Ade, ensuring his team are properly supported is something that he holds key to the success of the business, with some staff members working with The Chubby Castor since it opened five years ago.

“Some of them have been with me from the beginning. Four of them have children, which I respect them fully because I have my own family and I remember when I was working in the past, I never saw my children much,” he explained.

Discussing how he supports his team, Ade said: “It’s very important for me to make sure that they have a well-balanced work life. They get the three days off four days on, and if they need extra time, we encourage them and we help them with that.”

Clean, sharp, and fresh cooking style

As a young chef patron experienced in creating dishes that demand perfection, Ade’s cooking style is incredibly refined, with the chef describing three components that he holds central as a chef.

“I would describe my cooking style as clean, sharp and fresh,” he revealed.

Talking about the approach he promotes at The Chubby Castor, Ade said: “I personally try to stay away from chemical products, I don’t use setting powder in my food, I believe good food should be nutritious not to be played about with.”

For Ade, seasonality plays a big part in what dishes are included on the menu, with a lot of produce being grown and produced on site at the restaurant.

Discussing how he promotes seasonality at The Chubby Castor, Ade said: “We’ve got our own garden, we grow our own vegetables, and we try to base our menu around what we grow in the garden.”

As well as seasonality, Ade combines elements from his Nigerian heritage with ingredients that are available to him, creating unique flavour combinations for his guests.

Explaining how his heritage influences his cooking, Ade said: “I like to try different items on the menu. I’m from a Nigerian background so right now on the menu we have a beancake dish with lobster and XO sauce, when we have scallops we do them with plantain and alioli, so it all depends on what elements work with what.”

Plans for the Future

Looking to the future, Ade’s main focus is ensuring he remains fit and healthy. something that is often overlooked by many professionals working in hospitality.

“We need to be in a place of peace and love not just for ourselves but for our staff and for our customers. We want our guests to enjoy their food and enjoy their time at The Chubby Castor,” explained Ade.

As well as creating a positive environment for himself, his staff, and his customers, Ade also confirmed that he would like to open more venues in the future, particularly following the success of The Chubby Castor and his extensive kitchen career.

Advice for Chefs

For chefs starting out in the industry, Ade recommends to find the right kitchen as well as working hard and asking questions.

“Find a good kitchen, a kitchen that respects you as an individual and as a chef. A kitchen that will treat you if you were their child, their sibling, their cousin. If a kitchen doesn’t treat you like that don’t go in there – it doesn’t matter who they are or whatever name they have,” Ade explained.

Discussing the right work effort, Ade added: “Put your head down, learn, ask questions, because you’re going to be the youngest chef in that kitchen regardless. It’s never easy going into any kitchen, it’s not what you see on TV, it’s a totally different boardgame, so you have to put your head down and enjoy yourself and make sure people respect you for who you are.”

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 2nd November 2023

Chef to Watch: Adebola Adeshina, Chef Patron of The Chubby Castor