The new series of the BBC TV show sees 24 chefs from across Britain’s regions competing to serve their dish at the final banquet at Abbey Road Studios – with just one exceptional chef being crowned champion of champions.
Adam, representing Manchester in the north west heat of the competition, successfully beat Hrishikesh Desai, Michelin-starred executive chef at the Lake District’s Gilpin Hotel, and Liam Simpson-Trotman, co-owner of Orwells in Oxfordshire to go through to the finals, which will be broadcast next month.
With a musical theme, this year’s series marks the 50th anniversary of the last time The Beatles played live together, and celebrates Britain’s continuing success as a world player in music.
Adam’s dishes – including tater ‘ash (a dish he called ‘From The Beatles to Oasis‘) and a reinvented treacle tart (called ‘Madchester – I am the Resurrection’) wowed both viewers and judges.
He will now compete against other successful chefs from around the UK to present one of his four dishes at a banquet at Abbey Road Studios in London.
And Mancunians can get a taste of the action, as the chef’s four-course Great British Menu is now available for a limited time at The French. So we went to try it for ourselves.
Adam’s starter is titled ‘From the Beatles to Oasis’, and the chef claims that northern bands through the ages have been sustained by home-cooked meals like ‘tater ‘ash’.
Tater ‘ash has become a signature dish for Adam, but this is a refined, elegant take on the regional favourite.
It’s made with diced tartare of beef dressed with truffle, smoked salt and charcoal-infused oil, mixed with diced vegetables, potatoes and croutons cooked in dripping, and finished with mushroom catsup.
The tater ‘ash is served with Manchester ale bread, made by local bakery Pollen to Adam’s recipe, and an intensely savoury beef butter. It’s the best butter I’ve ever tasted, and it’s easy to see why it impressed the judges, with restaurateur Oliver Peyton declaring it “a really exciting dish to eat.”
Onto the fish course, and Adam’s dish is called ‘Northern Soul’. It doesn’t feature sole, however, but cod.
An almond poached cod loin sits on a bed of heftily buttered leeks, topped with a crisp deep-fried cod cheek. It’s doused in a creamy smoked roe sauce, peppered with colourful little spheres of trout and herring roe which burst on the tongue.
“I say yes to Northern Soul,” said judge Matthew Fort about the dish on the show – and it’s a big yes from us, too.
The bespoke tableware bearing the inscription ‘keep the faith’ is striking, too, made for Adam by potter Ian Wild, the ex-sound engineer for the Stone Roses whose company Fire Station Square Pottery is based in Salford.
‘Comfort Food Sounds Good’ is Adam’s main course, and was his highest scoring dish of the week on the show.
A sharing portion of tender roast chicken crown, brushed with garlic and herb butter, is served with individual plates of stew made with shredded chicken leg meat, pearl barley, sweetcorn, pickled turnips and buttered leeks.
It’s topped with shards of golden crispy chicken skin and earthy grated black truffle for an added touch of luxury, with a pot of sharp, rich chicken gravy.
Judge Matthew Fort declared it “an enviable skill to make the completely familiar fresh and new and delightful” – and it’s a skill Adam has perfected. This chicken dish is simply superb. We can’t stop smiling.
It’s not the first time Adam has taken part in the show. Fans will remember that he won Great British Menu in 2016 with his spectacular Golden Empire dessert, a show-stopping creation consisting of stewed apple with hazelnut crumble, meadowsweet custard and golden candy apples.
‘Madchester – I am the Resurrection’ is his 2019 dessert entry, a lighter and thoroughly modern version of the classic treacle tart.
It’s topped with clotted cream ice cream, with orange and fresh mint granita. It’s served on another Fire Station Square Pottery plate, in the style of a record.
How did Adam find the experience of being on the show again?
“It was completely different,” he says. “But I really wanted to show off what I do now. These are my dishes and my food.
“It was nerve-wracking, of course, but I was a lot more confident doing it, and I knew more what to expect. I’m glad I did it.”
Would he do it again?
“No,” he says, without hesitation. “I went back to show the food I do. And to get through to represent the north west – that’s enough.”
Adam is no stranger to accolades, though. Last year, The French was the only Manchester restaurant to make the Good Food Guide top 50 UK restaurants list, ranking an impressive number 13 for “cooking that has reached a pinnacle of achievement.”
The restaurant was also awarded four AA Rosettes for culinary excellence, described as “a creative city kitchen firing on all cylinders.”
If this Great British Menu is anything to go by, the praise is something he’d better get used to. It’s a menu to make Manchester proud.
Adam’s Great British Menu is available at The French at The Midland Hotel until mid-summer priced £85pp, or £145pp with matched wines.