Leading Lights – Adam Reid

Adam Reid is head chef of Manchester’s most prestigious restaurant, The French, having taken over from Simon Rogan in 2017 and revamping it in his own distinct style…”

You’re an advocate of ‘relaxed’ as opposed to ‘formal’ dining. Is the age of formal dining over?

No, I don’t think so. It’s just that there is a lot more on offer nowadays and there are more styles of dining with the same quality but in a more accessible setting.

It’s nice to see tater ‘ash on the menu. Are you staying true to your northern roots?
Yes, it would be hard not to! I cook the kind of food I love to eat and homely, comfort food is a staple for me…I just try to refine it a little.

How does the food scene in Manchester compare to the capital?
It’s completely different. There is a lot on offer and so many places are offering really good, quality food but the weekend trade is the focus in Manchester. I think the places that do best are designed for big numbers on weekends, which cover the quieter weekdays.

Was Simon Rogan a tough act to follow? How did you put your stamp on the place?
Of course, he’s one of the top chefs in the country so it was always going to be difficult to live up to him… which is why I didn’t even try to bother! From the moment I took the restaurant on I did want to take it in my own direction and bring my personality to it, from the food to the style of service and even the playlist. I think this is a major part of why we’ve  made the restaurant progress and we now have all the accolades that Simon held here but with a completely different style.

Are you targeting a Michelin star?
Those kinds of accolades are always a target for a restaurant like mine, but getting them is a different matter. We know the level we are at and are quite comfortable serving our happy customers. If Michelin think we fit their criteria then I’ll be overjoyed to put a star to our name, if not then it’s not the end of the world.

How did creating the winning dessert for the national final of Great British Menu 2016 change your career?
Well we opened a restaurant on the back of it! But it also helped put my name and what I do on a national stage. We had people coming from all over the country to try the apple, my winning dessert, which was very humbling but also shows the effect television has.

Tell us about your chef’s counter.

The chef’s counter was designed to get a bit more action into the room and also shorten the distance between where we finish the cold dishes and the customer. However, it grew into a counter dining area
where guests can sit and interact with the chefs. It’s quite unique for a restaurant that is (wrongly) thought of as being ‘just’ for special occasions, and people seem to have really taken to it!

And you’ve set up an allotment on the roof of the hotel?
The roof garden has been going for quite a while. I initially set it up to grow our own herbs and flowers because Simon’s farm couldn’t produce the quality required for the volume we needed. It has since grown to 21 raised beds, numerous pots and wall hangings, and we even have trees up there! Nowadays we don’t make too much use of it as my food style is very protein driven, and we don’t throw herbs and cresses on top of everything anymore.

What’s next for Adam Reid?
Who knows! I’d love to spread my wings and do a few other things. I have great ideas for casual dining and especially breakfast and lunch. It’s a case of waiting for the right opportunity to come along, so for the time being I’ll  keep pushing the French as far as I can.

And now for three questions that we ask all of our Leading Lights…

1. What are your three kitchen secrets?
i) Be organised
ii) Taste everything at least three times
iii) Buy the best ingredients possible: your cooking is only as good as
what you cook with.

2. What is your favourite ingredient and why?
Butter, it makes (nearly) everything better!

3. Please could you share your favourite recipe, along with your reasons for choosing it?

I have chosen to share my recipe for the clementine with white chocolate and sea buckthorn. It’s a signature dish of mine, which has developed since my Great British Menu dish in 2016, Golden Empire. Blowing sugar is a unique skill which creates something visually stunning, so I’m proud to include it on my menu.

 

To view recipe click here