Adam Byatt is a renowned chef, restaurateur, and food writer. He began his culinary career aged 16 at the five-star Claridge’s Hotel in London. He went on to join Phil Howard at his prestigious restaurant, The Square, before being appointed sous chef as the restaurant received its second Michelin star. In 2001, Byatt went on to open his first restaurant, Thyme, in Clapham which won countless awards including ‘Time Out Restaurant of the Year 2003’. Since then, he has opened another two of his own award-winning restaurants; Trinity, which was awarded a Michelin star, and Bistro Union.
Byatt has also published his own cookbook ‘How to Eat In’ and he mentors and judges young chef schemes and competitions. This year, he will be judging the fourth edition of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition at its final in November.
What inspired you to become a chef?
I was originally attracted to the structure and discipline of kitchen life, it suited me as a school leaver, I loved the excitement and ever-changing daily tasks.
Who has been your biggest influence?
Describe your cooking style?
Classical French foundation, pleasure delivering, guest focused prime seasonal produce. I am a purist when it comes to food.
What major lesson did your first job teach you?
Respect for ingredients, fear of sous chefs, love of hotels and how to interact successfully with people through a cross-section of society and positions of power. I learned to cook a little too.
How do you apply that to your career now?
I still respect ingredients to the same degree, my sous chefs are nurturing not policing, I stay in hotels a lot and have managed to navigate successfully through most of life’s hierarchical spectrum.
What is the hardest part of your job?
The time I am needed to be apart from my family.
What has been the most enjoyable moment in your career?
I take a lot of enjoyment seeing my young team progress and grow as cooks, managers or just as people through the direct influence my business has had on them. Being awarded a Michelin Star was also a very special day .
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
That if you continue to always cook as I have throughout my career, the cookery part becomes so much easier and less stressful as you age, your cookery relaxes, and you become at one with your food. Cooking becomes even more joyful.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Granola and tea at 6.30am, run 5k (every third day) take my son to the station, arrive at work for 8am, admin and diary / talk to suppliers, my team etc… until 9am, cook until 11.30am, conduct a staff briefing, eat a family meal, cook service until 3pm, visit Bistro Union, back to Trinity for 5 o’clock family meal, conduct staff briefing at 5.30pm, cook dinner service, check the days emails, go home around 11.30pm, have a glass of wine, reflect on the day and go to bed around 1am.
How do you unwind?
Spending time with my family, running, I don’t skimp on holidays and the wine helps a lot.
What is your favourite restaurant?
Trinity – it’s my home. But I really enjoyed recently going to Brat, Sabor and Lorne.
What is the most important advice you give to those you mentor?
Be patient and strategic in regard to your career. Work only for those people you utterly respect and who will take an active part in investing in your growth and future potential.
What will you be looking for when judging the S.Pellegrino competition?
It will be exciting to see how these young chefs make the very most of the amazing produce on offer in the UK. How they apply their own individual identity into the food and how they conduct themselves amongst their peers and judges, they will after all be looking to represent the UK on an international stage.
As a restaurateur, how do you keep positive given the current state of the industry?
I am inherently a ‘glass half full’ person, yes, it’s relatively tough right now but one thing is for sure, my team will be led by how I am around them, if I am upbeat, bring energy and positivity they have to follow suit. That’s the life of a business owner. And in any case London is the most dynamic and diverse place to eat in the world right now, owning a restaurant right here and now with the team I have makes me very positive and proud indeed.
What trends do you predict we will see in the food industry?
Flexitarian dining – get with it or give up.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Haven’t been asked that for a while… I will be 50 so hopefully celebrating that milestone and all that’s been achieved so far with my nearest and dearest and continuing to do what I love – cook.