Chef profile - Adam Reid, The French at the Midland Hotel, Manchester
PUBLISHED: 10:00 10 June 2016
Adam Reid, head chef at The French in Manchester’s Midland Hotel, doesn’t believe in rushing things, as Emma Mayoh discovered
Adam Reid knows how to work under pressure. The talented head chef had just a few weeks to open The French, the Simon Rogan restaurant at Manchester’s Midland Hotel.
‘Restaurants do tend to open quickly,’ said Adam. ‘But it’s usually not quite like that. It was certainly no mean feat. It was all a bit crazy. We worked really hard to get everything sorted.
‘The idea of taking The French on had only been conceived a week before I got the job and it was open within a month of me getting it. I left my last job; I went up to Cartmel and did two weeks at Aulis. Simon came up with a menu a week after I’d started so I had a week to develop it and we opened three days later. I met my team of chefs only three days before we started. It was hard work. But worth it.’
But that is where the rushing stops for Adam. The 31-year-old, who lives in Mossley with his wife, Natalie, and two year-old Henry, likes to take his time when it comes to his career. Starting off in the restaurant at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, Adam spent several years honing his craft under the tutelage of renowned chef Robert Kisby. He also spent long stints as sous chef at Brockencote Hall in Worcestershire, at Simon Radley at The Chester Grosvenor and at Le Mont, in the former Urbis building in Manchester. He became head chef at The French three years ago.
‘I’m a firm believer that you should take your time somewhere so you can get the most out of a job,’ said Adam, originally from Audenshaw. ‘It takes three months just to settle in, six months to actually start learning something and then longer to start making an impact and getting really involved.
I think you should have at least three years in one place. There is no need to rush.’
It’s a practice that has worked well for the talented chef and he has adopted it at The French. Not only has he taken his time developing, modifying and tweaking the food and techniques he and his team use, he also ensures customers are never hurried out of the stylish restaurant.
‘Coming to The French is about an experience,’ he said. ‘When you have a table here, you have it for the evening. We don’t want anyone to feel like they are being rushed.
‘We want them to enjoy the food, enjoy the atmosphere and enjoy The French.’
Much of the produce comes from Simon Rogan’s farm in Cartmel in the Lake District. But Adam forages near his home for other ingredients and he would like to re-establish a kitchen garden on the roof of the Midland to ensure the freshest produce possible.
Adam uses that quality produce to turn out dishes that use bold, simple flavours to create food with flair. As you might expect in a Rogan-inspired kitchen there are many ultra-modern gadgets. The herbs – brought from Cartmel –are kept in high-tech cabinets designed to keep them as fresh as if they had just been picked. There is also a barbecue in the kitchen – not one you’d find in B&Q of course – and it is used regularly for some of the dishes.
‘I’m very lucky to have all the fantastic ingredients we get from the farm up in Cartmel as well as the technical equipment and the skilled chefs we have here,’ said Adam. ‘But we are just working to create the very best food for our diners. It’s not about doing these things for the sake of it, or to chase stars. If you do that you’re losing already. We’re definitely the kind of restaurant where accolades like that would be a benefit and we gear ourselves up for it and it would be a massive boost. But we don’t set out thinking it’s the be all and end all.
And while Adam is in no hurry to leave The French, he would ultimately like to have his own restaurant.
‘I think that’s something that ever chef really hopes for,’ he said. ‘It’s definitely something that, in the end, I would love to do. But I have a great job. I really agree with Simon’s ethos - from the way he sources things to the way he looks at the food and the technical skills used to enhance it.
‘It is a natural way of working as for a chef like me, who has been trained very classically, it’s really refreshing. It’s exciting. It’s very fluid. I’ve got the support of the person who’s got his name over the door but I don’t have someone needing to tell me what to do all the time.’