CHEF ADAM LESTRELLE
Head Chef at the Roehampton Club.
South West London, UK.
Twitter: @adsy2011 Instagram: @chefmilky
Chef Adam Lestrelle is funny, humble and talented - a great combination in this industry. A self-taught chef who isn't afraid of getting stuck in, you cannot help but sense his passion for both cooking and food through his interview answers. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did! Chef Adam with Chef Rosemary Shrager.
I work at the Roehampton Club which is an exclusive private members sports club in South West London, set in 100 acres of stunning parkland. From our day-to-day service to back-to-back functions including weddings - it's great to have this variety in a beautiful setting.
1. Your restaurant/role:
My kitchen is the smallest I have worked in for a long time, but I wouldn’t change it!
You can always work with what you are given for sure. The brigade is great and diverse, I have two apprentices and a big scope of mainly self-taught chefs, like myself, who are easy to relate too! All the chefs are respectful and grateful that they are moved around in the kitchen, so they are never working the same section. All are involved with the menu development as well as the big functions. It is certainly all about the teamwork, whether I am cleaning the dishes or standing on the pass it doesn’t matter to me.
Chef Adam at work.
2. Describe your kitchen:
My favourite Chef Works item would be the great coats, like my Valais Chef Coat, lightweight and bringing comfort into the chef wear. Aerated and light, they are a dream to wear!
3. Favourite Chef Works item and why?
My first ever job was as a landscape gardener and I loved it. Creating a variety of different areas was awesome. I may have tried to run faster than I could walk with in the industry and I soon found myself in the kitchen after hibernating one winter…. In 2013 I found myself helping out in the kitchen as a passionate home cook. The difference is that my home is now in the kitchen and I love it! How things have changed and evolved is scary and at what a rapid speed it has happened too.
4. First job:
Favourite cookbook... Escoffier by Auguste Escoffier. Wow, you just cant beat the classical cooking. I read this when I was starting out in 2013 and it undoubtedly put me in a stronger position, however for Christmas I got Paul Fosters Cookbook ‘Salt’ and oh boy this is one hell of a book and I recommend everyone to buy it.
I have loaned it to my new apprentice, so that he can really see where the passion and the roots of a Michelin star chef come from. The first 100 pages aren’t recipes but his story and experiences. Then the pictures within the book... there is no book out there like it! I recently met Paul Foster in Birmingham and had to tell him too.
5. Favourite cookbook:
My awards in cooking are minimal apart from my self-reward of my story as a chef so far. I have a couple of golds Best in Class, bronze and few merits to my name also from Salon Culinaire too. I may look at the Culinary Olympics next year and there’s a few competitions I will be entering this year, so fingers crossed and watch this space.
On the pass.
6. Your awards:
My cooking inspiration has to be my Nan. When I was younger, as a school cook herself, I couldn’t wait to be round at her house for a Sunday Roast or her Steak & Kidney Pie. The effortless care and love put in to the food came from the heart and bundles of knowledge. They are some great memories. Unfortunately, when I started cooking Nan was no longer with us and I think Tom Kerridge took my Nan's place for good traditional food elevated with love passion and care, packed with flavours.
7. Your cooking inspiration:
Ox Cheek... oh wow it's naughty! and currently on the menu at Roehampton Club too. It’s a simple dish with a caramelised mash, roasted carrot and charred shallots with the cooking liquor reduced (the flavours pack a punch with quite a bit of star anise and red wine in there its proper naughty).
8. Your speciality dish:
Has to be my Nan's Steak & Kidney Pie. Dammnnnn if there was one last meal…
9. Favourite dish to eat:
The weirdest thing I have eaten has to be snails when I was about nine. Now throw me any food and I will try it at least once.
10. Weirdest thing you ever ate:
Wow good question, there are a lot of flavours! Gin & Elderflower on a sweet summers day.
11. Favourite ice cream flavour:
Well... that’s a difficult one, so many different scenarios; the Guinness for a day at the rugby, a nice ice cold cider on a hot summer day and then a beautiful Malbec after a long service, you cant go wrong.
12. Favourite drink:
Love a Malbec, when I meet with a few chefs I used to work with there’s bound to be a couple of those ending up being drunk for sure. A lot of good memories as well as dishes have been created with a good bottle of Malbec.
13. Favourite wine:
Who would you most like to cook for... Has to be my Nan if she was around, but nothing beats cooking for my mum and family, as I know them personally it's much more rewarding and informal. If it had to be a celebrity, Tom Kerridge, the man who inspired me late on.
14. Who would you most like to cook for?
Has to be Gregg Wallace, I mean not my favourite critic in the industry.
15. And who would you least like to cook for?
No brainer! my other half and my six month old little beauty, Lily. Time is precious with these two for sure.
16. Favourite things to do when not cooking:
I have just got two new apprentices in the kitchen which is awesome as well as trying to go in to as many culinary colleges to inspire the future chefs. It costs nothing to give back and something I’m really proud to do in my spare time.
17. Your latest project:
Greatest city, ahhh you just can’t beat Ireland! I love it, My grandparents and mother are from Galway, it is absolutely stunning! Beautiful, tranquil and traditional. Still speaking Latin in churches and Gaelic in the local village too.
18. Favourite city and why?
I certainly have a sweet tooth and have a great soft spot for chocolate and/or fudge...
19. Your greatest indulgence?
My culinary tip is to have patience and always listen. Never be afraid to experiment with new flavours and concepts... Always taste!
20. And finally, your all-time best culinary tip?
Photography: Care of Adam Lestrelle.