Meet the National Chef of the Year 2016 finalists: Adam Handling

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 28th September 2015

On Tuesday, October 6 a new National Chef of the Year 2016 will be crowned. We take a closer look at this year's finalists hoping to produce winning dishes at the final at The Restaurant Show, which will impress the judging panel - Adam Handling. 

Adam Handling at 16, was the first ever apprentice chef to learn at the prestigious Gleneagles Hotel. His first position as head chef came at the Esperante restaurant at Fairmont St. Andrews, where he received two rosettes in the AA Restaurant Guide and an award for Scottish Chef Of The Year in 2011.

In 2013 Adam appeared in the BBC’s Masterchef: The Professionals, reaching the final three. Since 2014 Adam has served as head chef at his self-named restaurant, Adam Handling at Caxton in London’s St. James’s Park.

adam handling heat winner NCOTY 2015 - Copy

Adam Handling

heat winner

National Chef of the Year 2016

Congratulations on making the final for the second year running, how does it feel?

Very good, I was thrilled to go through but shocked at how I won the semi round - there were some amazing chefs there! I prepared a goat and onion dish. So I did an onion pasta with a confit of goat shoulder, then a crispy veal sweetbread and fresh peas with a broth.

Are you nervous about cooking in front of the crowds at The Restaurant Show?

I’m nervous about the final, but not about cooking in front of an audience. Obviously I’m nervous as hell about it because the chefs in there are phenomenal chefs, I’m just happy to be a part of it. So the cooking part, yes; the audience part, no.

>>> Find out more about Adam in our feature with him

How do the dishes you prepare reflect your personality?

They’re fun dishes. They’re not quirky, there’s no stupid gimmicks, there’s no little tools like a fancy machine that comes out and starts blowing whistles and smoke, none of that rubbish! It’s all about the flavour before the look, it’s quite simple food but complicated at the same time, it’s natural.

Which chefs do you feel have shaped you the most in cooking?

To be fair, I think Massimo Botturadid, I didn’t spend a lot of time with him but you don’t need to

Adam Handling: Macaroni cheese, garlic, peas, mushrooms

Adam Handling:

Macaroni cheese,


peas, mushrooms

spend a lot of time with a chef to be touched, for his influence to come across to you. And it was the fact that we were doing a one-on-one thing, in Masterchef, and you were working directly with him, all the time- not even the chefs in his restaurant would get to do that. He changed my way of thinking about what I thought about food,he didn’t really change a lot about what I was doing but most of my thought process about it, and that’s how it changed.

What would winning National Chef of the Year mean to you personally?

At the moment, I can’t even imagine winning it. I don’t think this year will be my year, I don’t know why. I’m a bit weird, you know? You know when you have that thought process, that you dream about something and you’re thinking ‘Oh my God, I don’t think I actually want to do it’?

I’m going to go in kicking and screaming but I don’t think this year- my God, if it is I’d be over the moon, absolutely over the moon- but I’m going to try and make it my year. I’ve won British Chef of the Year, I’ve won Scottish Chef of the Year, I have an Acorn, but this one is the main one, I’ve always wanted this one and I’d love to win it but this one will take some work.

>>> Find out more about the chefs who have taken part in National Chef of the Year here 

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 28th September 2015

Meet the National Chef of the Year 2016 finalists: Adam Handling