There’s nothing as exciting as the arrival of each season’s new crop of ingredients for Adam’s head chef Tom Shepherd – unless it’s a bacon sarnie on a Sunday morning, of course!
Tell us about your cooking
It’s modern, flavour driven, educated, clean and seasonally led. The start of every season excites me when all the new ingredients come into fruition, especially when we work so closely with our suppliers. All the hard work has been done by the growers and producers, we’re the lucky ones who get to finish it off and showcase it to our customers.
How did you become a chef?
I fell into cooking really. I was a trainee manager at New Hall Hotel in Walmley and part of the training was working for three months in the kitchen. Within a week, I discovered a genuine passion for the environment.
Who are your influences?
The main influence that got me into cooking was Gordon Ramsay. Watching his programmes and seeing his natural desire and demands inspired me greatly. Also, my family. They have always been so supportive and so proud of my achievements.
What do you eat when at home?
I love a bacon sarnie on a Sunday morning and still adore my mom’s roast dinner. I rarely cook on my days off so a takeaway is often on the cards.
Who’s the best chef in the world and why? And who’s the best in Brum?
One of my personal favourites is Daniel Humm at Eleven Madison Park in New York. His simplistic approach and level of execution is of the highest I’ve seen and I am lucky enough to be dining there in August. In Birmingham, I love the fact that my generation is coming through the ranks and taking charge of some of the best kitchens in the city. Such as Leo Kattou at Simpsons and Brad Carter and Ben Tesh. I’ve had fantastic meals at both Carters and Folium.
Is the customer always right?
At the end of the day the customer is here to try our food and hopefully enjoy it. But we have to accept that we can’t please everyone all the time, as much as we try.
Share a cooking tip
Make sure meat is always brought to room temperature before cooking – it’s vitally important if you want even cooking throughout your meat. Also once cooked, remember to rest it.
What was your favourite food as a kid?
Sausage and mash. I literally lived off it and was all I would ever ask for.
Food heaven and hell?
Heaven is anything rich and indulgent, such as roast pork belly in a great sauce made from its own juices, followed by a large portion of tiramisu. Hell is sea urchins.
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
I was at a friend’s restaurant and was served chicken’s feet with a wild garlic pesto. The idea was to mop up the pesto using the feet. It wasn’t for me!
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
Involved in sports in some way, football or motor racing. Maybe a coach or a technician.
What do you recommend from this evening’s menu?
Our Best End of Herdwick hogget with English peas, broad beans, mint and goat’s curd. A celebration of everything that is in season right now, and all British.
TOM’S HOGGET WITH PEAS, BROAD BEANS, MINT AND GOAT’S CURD
- Herdwick Hogget rack and shoulder (bone separate)
- 100g garden peas
- 100g broad beans
- 1 bunch of mint
- 50g goat’s curd
For the sauce:
- 2 shallots
- 4 cloves garlic
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 1ltr chicken stock
- 150ml Madeira
- 150ml red wine
- 75ml brandy
Prepare the lamb shoulder and brine in a 10 per cent salt brine for 24 hours. Cook it for a further 24 hours at 78 degrees after the brining process, make sure you wash the shoulder for at least 20 minutes before cooking. Once cooked, carefully flake it down and roll it into a ballantine (sausage shape) allow to set in the fridge and then slice it into 1cm thick slices ready to fry in pan later.
For the sauce, roast the lamb bones for 40 minutes, take out and drain excess fat. In a large pan, fry the shallots, garlic and rosemary, add the bones and fry for a further 2 minutes. Deglaze with all the alcohol and reduce to a glace, add stock and cook down until desired consistency. Pass through a sieve ready to serve.
Roast the lamb rack for 8 to 10 minutes at 180 degrees, allow to rest for 10 minutes. While the meat is resting, ensure your sauce is hot and begin to cook the peas, broad beans and fry lamb shoulder disc. Once cooked begin to assemble on a plate, and finish off with a few spoonfuls of goat’s curd.