James Goodyear

Meet James Goodyear, the new Coventry-born head chef of Michelin-starred Birmingham restaurant Adam’s. Classically-trained, James was previously in charge of the kitchen at Hide in Piccadilly Circus, London. So, what makes him tick? 

Tell us about your cooking

There is an implicit simplicity with good food – I like to work with nature, following the seasons and using great produce to bring my ideas to life. My style comes from a mix of my life experiences. I trained for five years at Le Manoir with Raymond Blanc. I’ve travelled to Scandinavia, where the culture is all about foraging for beautiful freshness. I also worked in the Basque region of Spain, cooking over fire and tasting some of the most beautiful food imaginable. Working in a beautiful kitchen with a fantastic team is what excites me and that’s what we have at Adam’s.

How did you become a chef?

I wasn’t always passionate about food as a child – I was more interested in sports and physical activity. I did enjoy being at school but didn’t want to go to university. When school finished and it was time to look at what I could do next. I always enjoyed eating food and watching Ready, Steady, Cook with my mom so thought I’d give cooking a go. As soon as I stepped into my first kitchen, I really loved it and I’ve just kept learning ever since.

What do you eat at home and what was your favourite food as a kid?

My mom would make a homemade meal for the family every day when I was growing up. I’ve travelled all over the world but when I go back home to Warwickshire, that’s what I crave. A nice cottage pie or a stew are among my favourite dishes even now.

Who’s the best chef in the world and why? And who’s the best in Brum?

I’ve worked with some amazing chefs across so many different styles of cuisine. I don’t put one on a higher pedestal than another, so I’d have to play it safe and say my mom is the best chef in the world for me! Obviously, Adam Stokes is a fantastic chef and someone whose food I greatly admire. I am relatively new to Birmingham so I am excited to meet some of the talented chefs across the city! 

Food heaven and food hell?

Heaven for me is all about my days off in the Basque country. Myself and the team would use the money we’d saved through the week and go out to get a whole grilled turbot, caught on the day and cooked over coals, slowly and beautifully. Served on a beach in San Sebastián with a fresh tomato salad on the side, it felt like heaven! Hell for me revolves around kidneys! I appreciate being resourceful and not being wasteful with food but that’s one thing I just can’t eat. 

Share a cooking tip

There is a real amount of skill in putting together a really well-cooked breakfast – making sure the bacon is crispy and getting the sausages just right. Eggs are a big one too. Poaching an egg is relatively simple but so worth doing right. I think if you take the time to learn how to do each element of a traditional cooked breakfast properly, you will acquire skills that help you in other areas.

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?

I’d love to say I’d be a footballer, ever since I was old enough to kick a ball I loved it. If I wasn’t doing that it would be something sport related.

Adam’s Restaurant, New Oxford House, 16 Waterloo Street, Birmingham, B2 5UG. adamsrestaurant.co.uk