Great British Menu 2019 chefs: Adam Reid, North West heat

The Staff Canteen

The Great British Menu 2019 North West heat kicks off on BBC 2 on Wednesday 10th April at 8pm, featuring  chefs Liam Simpson-Trotman, Hrishikesh Desai and Adam Reid. 

We asked them what it was like to take part in the competition, now in its fourteenth edition. This week's contestants will be judged by Michelin-starred veteran chef Tom Aikens. Two of them will make it to the judge's table on Friday, where Matthew Fort, Oliver Peyton and Andi Oliver will be joined by singer-songwriter Amy MacDonald.

Watch Adam Reid Chef Adam Reid create three dishes: Ox in coal oil, pumpkin seed, kohlrabi and sunflower shoots; English rose veal, turnips, dripping potatoes and hen of the woods and Lancashire coals with liquorice, milk and fennel

Adam Reid, chef patron of The French at The Midland Hotel  in Manchester is no stranger to Great British Menu. In 2016, he took his signature dessert, Golden Empire, to the banquet. 

Since then, Adam has taken the helm at The French and maintained the four AA Rosettes he earned as head chef under Simon Rogan. 

Adam Reid Tom Aikens Hrishikesh Desai Liam Simpson TrotmanWhat was it like to be back on GBM?

It was very different to the first time because then d I was running a restaurant for somebody else. The whole reason for me going this time was to show what I'm doing now.

I've change everything, from the way the restaurant room is down to the way we approach service.

So it was the perfect opportunity to go on and show people how I cook now, because it's quite different to what I was doing under Simon or anyone else I've worked for. It's really about trying to show my own personality and create my own cooking style.

Image: From left to right: Adam Reid, Tom Aikens, Hrishikesh Desai and Liam Simpson-Trotman. Credit: BBC Pictures

This year GBM was in a new studio with a new production team, how was that?

The kitchen was awesome. It's all induction now, really spacious, really open. It's gonna give it a completely different feel to the last time.

When I did it the first time it just seemed like it was all about just making your life  an absolute nightmare. This time round it felt a lot fresher, like it was intended to help you do the best food that you possibly could.

It felt like it was a bit more about the cooking this time and about the level you could achieve as opposed to just how interesting it is to watch you set something on fire.

How was it competing against Liam and Hrishikesh?

Yeah, cool. I'd never met Liam before but I know Hrishi because he's been around, he's had a star for a couple of years now. Liam did it last year so we had some experience of it. Hrish was brand new on but he's a phenomenal chef.

 I always get a really hard group - the first time I did it was against Matt Worswick and Kim Woodward. Liam's got four Rosettes at Orwells, I've got fourAA Rosettes; Hrishi's got a star - so quite highly accoladed chefs all going for it.

It was pretty tough really - but enjoyable. They're really nice guys.

Did you feel a bit intimidated, being judged by Tom Aikens?

Yeah. I don't  get flustered about very much in kitchens  nowadays, but it's a generational thing.

It's like when I had Phil Howard the first time I did it. When I was first starting out these guys were at the peak. So I was a little bit flustered when I was trying to describe my dish and my ingredients but then I got myself together and cracked on with it.

Can you talk me through the inspiration behind your dishes? Did you like the brief?

I absolutely hated it. 

You're the only person to have said that actually.

Everybody gives you the bullshit don't they. I love music. I love listening to music, but I know fuck all about it.

My interests are cooking and my family and I listen to music as something to do.

So initially I was like: 'This is a nightmare' because just getting a connection is the main thing. You can  know a million songs in the world. And I just wanted to turn up like I imagine a lot of people would've done and just say: "this is my favourite song and this is my favourite dish so I'm just gonna stick a song over the top and cook some random food", but I was trying to look into it a little bit deeper than that.

 I struggled at first because I knew the reason why my dishes fitted the brief, and you never really know when you when you get to the show or when you get to recording how your veteran judge is going to take it. So you might have a judge who really only cares about the cooking quality of ingredients, like Phil Howard did the first time I did it.

I almost was happy to go out first on the Thursday if it meant that everybody saw how I cooked - if I went out because it didn't fit the brief then I wouldn't have been that bothered.

It was it was difficult at first but then I got my head around it and realised that you can't get away without any kind of props or visual direction, so I did some cards to try and get it across.

I might have just been railroading myself a little bit more because I turned up to do my food and not diverge from that. When I did it couple of years ago I'd have cooked anything as long as it fit the brief and tasted nice.

GBM judges Amy MacDonaldWhen you entered the competition which of your dishes did you hope to take to the banquet?

My beef hash starter. I was massively keen on that getting through because that's one dish that felt like a bit of a signature. I wanted it to make an impact and I think it did.

Would you take part in GBM again?

I don't think so, no. It's a time and a place thing. I actually went back to them this time; they were really keen after the first time to do it again because Tommy (Banks) was coming back but on the back of doing it the first time I was taking over the restaurant here, so I didn't have the time or the patience.

But I've been doing this for two years now, it's been mine and my food. So I've settled down, I know where I'm at, so it just felt right to to go back and have another crack at it.

Image:Top, left to right: Andi Oliver, Matthew Fort. Bottom, left to right: Oliver Peyton,  Amy MacDonald

In this day and age with chefs it's almost like you need your profile to be out there; it's a tough gig now being a chef, it's not just about cooking. You've got to be on TV as well.

I felt like it was the right thing to do but I can't see myself doing it again.

I told them that I wanted to go back as a judge after the first time and then I had to go back and compete, so I really want to go back as a judge now.

The first time I did it and I got to the banquet it was brilliant and amazing but it was in a different context. This time I wanted to turn up - without putting myself on a pedestal, because I don't think I'm at this level - like a Nathan Outlaw or Simon Rogan would turn up. They'd cook their food uncompromisingly and that's the way I wanted to approach it this time.

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 10th April 2019

Great British Menu 2019 chefs: Adam Reid, North West heat