Rocco Forte Hotels

With a passion for British cuisine, the new Chef Director at Brown’s Hotel, Adam Byatt comes with an impressive track record and brings with him innovative plans for the hotel’s culinary future.  We met with Adam to find out about his career to date, his role at the hotel’s new restaurant, Charlie’s and sourcing exceptional ingredients.  

Did you always want to be a chef?

I’m very lucky; I knew what I wanted to do with my life from a very young age.  I was drawn to the kitchen by the environment, fluidity and pace; I felt alive there.  Thirty years on, I still do! 

How did you know the time was right to open Thyme, your first solo venture?

Thyme was my ‘toe in the water’ moment back in 2001.  I wanted to make that leap and know if I could be a chef and restaurant owner.  Thyme was small but trailblazing for its time, offering twenty small plates at reasonable prices – the main driver for this concept was that I couldn’t afford to buy a set of main course plates. Although it worked, and guests loved the sharing and variation, it was difficult to execute.

You went on to open Trinity, Bistro Union and later Upstairs. How did it feel to be awarded a Michelin Star?

It remains the pinnacle of my career to date.  I have had many amazing experiences and awards over my 30-year career, but to be recognized by the Guide and placed into a separate tier of chefs makes the input for my team and I so worthwhile.

What drew you to the position of Chef Director at Brown’s Hotel?

On a personal level, I want to continue to grow and create opportunities for my team. I came to know the Forte family as a guest chef for a few years at the beautiful Verdura Resort in Sicily.  The company’s philosophy on hospitality mirrors mine, Lydia Forte and I talked about Brown’s and one thing led to another. It’s an honour to represent such a great British institution.

Can you tell us a little about your memories of Brown’s Hotel as a child?

Although my grandfather was a bell boy there in the 1950s, I only went once as a child for a family celebration.  There is something magical and mysterious about a 5-star hotel in central London and I guess that has never really worn off.

What excites you most about launching Charlie’s, and what makes it stand out?

The space for the restaurant is simply amazing, steeped in incredible history.  I am excited to see how, over time, the Brown’s team and I can transform the space into a busy, buzzing area with people feasting, dining and drinking.

How would you describe the food at Charlie’s?

Up-to-date classical British fare that is delicious, well sourced and cooked with love.  I was determined to create a menu and offering unique to the space and which fitted the hotel and its address, which I think it does. 

You put a lot of emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients.  How do you source suppliers and what’s most important when choosing them?

I have spent many years honing a black book of the very best there is in terms of artisan suppliers.  My restaurants live and die by the reputation of their ingredients and therefore nothing is more important. To work with us, suppliers must view food and hospitality in the same way that we do.

Our meat comes from the Lake District, our cod from Peterhead, our shellfish from Brittany and our dairy from the Channel Islands.  Flour from Lincolnshire and grouse from Essex, langoustines and scallops from the Outer Hebrides. A real melting pot of the best the UK and France has to offer.

What’s your personal favourite of the dishes on the menus at Charlie’s?

Right now, my choice at Charlie’s would be Crab Salad, Dover Sole and Crème Caramel.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?

I love working with ever-changing seasonal produce and very much enjoy seeing my teams grow and develop but ultimately, I do this job because I love cooking for and pleasing people with food.

What, in your opinion, is the most important quality a chef should have?

Passion and attention to detail, which is what makes us cooks somewhat challenging in the boardroom!

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