The culinary director at the Grand Hotel Birmingham, Adam Bateman, talks pot washing, street food, fine dining, comfort food – and a childhood love of chocolate eclairs and wanting to be a firefighter
Tell us about your cooking
I love casual dining; conceptual restaurants that stand on their own two feet even when sitting within a luxury lifestyle hotel. Throughout my career I’ve been exposed to different cuisines – fine dining to street food, banqueting to coffee shops – and I really enjoy the exposure and experience of all these outlets coming together under one roof to deliver all-round excellent food and drink.
How did you become a chef?
I was never much of a cook at a young age – I was interested in becoming a firefighter. I’ve never been academic, so to raise some cash as a teenager I started pot washing and was quickly exposed to a kitchen environment. It wasn’t an easy ride from that point, but I’m proud now that I stuck with it and found a real passion for quality ingredients, designing dishes and giving guests an elevated culinary experience.
What do you eat at home?
The one thing I’ll say about chefs is that we don’t cook out of work! I am very partial to a lasagne and chips – who doesn’t love carbs on carbs? And a dirty burger will always have a special place in my heart.
Who’s the best chef in the world and why? And who’s the best in Brum?
We lost a lot of excellent chefs last year, including Michel Bourdin, Nico Ladenis and Bill Granger and I always feel this gives us an opportunity to look back and reflect on our inspirations through our career, of which there are so many for me that I couldn’t choose one. We’re lucky in Birmingham to have the number of Michelin-starred restaurants that we do and I’m grateful to my colleagues and pals Aktar Islam, Brad Carter, Andreas Antona and Adam Stokes who really push the boundaries.
Share a cooking tip
Taste, taste, taste! It’s something I drill into my children at home as much as the team in the kitchen.
What was your favourite food as a kid?
Chocolate eclairs. I was allowed them as a treat from Druckers, which was a patisserie.
Food heaven and food hell?
Simple comfort food is my heaven – shepherd’s pie on a Sunday afternoon or a bowl of pasta. While I love eggs as an ingredient to make something tasty, I’m not a fan of the texture of poached or fried.
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
Sea urchin in a restaurant called Niechel in Spain that was run by a British husband and wife. We got chatting and by the end of the night I had joined the rest of the chefs in the kitchen!
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
I’d like to think I’d have pursued my dream of being a firefighter but now, as I’m here in my mid-40s and reflecting on my career, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Give us an easy recipe readers can make using those lingering items in the store cupboard
Jazz up frozen chips. Put a family-size portion into a mixing bowl, add two teaspoons of vegetable oil, two pinches of salt, your choice of dry herbs like paprika or chilli flakes, and give them a good shake. Bake as normal for a really tasty tray of chips.