Chef Adam Hague: What’s Cooking?
Our favourite chefs spill all about their work, lives and top tips. Dishing it this week? Adam Hague, Head Chef at The Greyhound Pub & Dining in Beaconsfield
Your first job (in a kitchen)?
My first job was as a commis chef. Funnily enough, I never had to clean a dish until I was a sous chef, but I soon realised how difficult and important the job can be! It’s one of the most important roles in the kitchen.
Getting my name in The Good Food Guide for the first time was definitely a career highlight. To be in the company of the UK’s best restaurants is a real honour and shows the value of hard work. And, of course, being a part of The Greyhound from the start of its journey has been incredible.
Sum up your cooking style/ food philosophy?
My philosophy is that above all else, food should be fun. I want guests to enjoy the food as much as I enjoy making it. I would say my personal style is clean with a strong depth of flavour.
Most memorable moment at work?
Probably the day I got a dish on the menu for the very first time. I was 20-years-old and still in the early days of my career working at Lainston House in Winchester. I was so giddy it could have been Christmas morning.
Ever cooked for anyone famous?
Being in this area for some time now, I’ve cooked for quite a few notable guests. I recently cooked for chef and legend, Pierre Koffmann, which was really exciting.
Your biggest mistake at work?
My very first day in the kitchen, my chef asked if I was comfortable handling a knife because they didn’t have any plasters. Not wanting to disappoint, I said ‘Yeah, sure’, the chef handed me a small serrated knife – within a second I’d cut my finger! Any chef will be lying if they said they didn’t make mistakes. It’s how you learn and become better.
You’re tired, starving and impatient: what do you cook for dinner?
I’m a sucker for a good sandwich. My guilty pleasure is a salty smoked ham sandwich, pickles, Swiss cheese, Thousand Island dressing and a good wedge of iceberg lettuce.
What would you cook to impress a date?
I would find a subtle way to learn about her favourite dishes and put my own spin on those. It would have to be three courses with a good wine that ticks all the boxes: romantic, delicious, and presented well. If all else fails, at least we’ve had a great meal!
Marco Pierre White. But having said that, there are so many talented chefs around at the moment, so it’s a hard choice! Clare Smyth at Core is smashing it. I’ve also always been a fan of Matt Gillan. His restaurant, Heritage, is one of my favourites.
My house is filled to the brim with cookbooks. One I’ve been loving recently is Peter Gilmore’s ‘Organum’, which is all about finding inspiration for food through nature. Peter has an experimental garden where he grows all different types of edible plant species, and he incorporates those into the 40 dishes in the book. The food and ingredient shots are fantastic, too.
Favourite type of cuisine?
That’s a tough one, but I would have to say Cantonese food. I love Dim Sum and often make it when I’m cooking at home. It’s the type of food you can spend years perfecting.
Favourite kitchen gadget?
The Pacojet. It’s a unique food processor used to micro-puree deep-frozen foods into ultra-fine textures without thawing! Truly revolutionary.
Favourite local café? Restaurant? Hotel?
My favourite local café is 1220 in Amersham. They’re doing great takeaway coffee and hot specials at the moment, which has been my savour during lockdown. My favourite restaurant is probably The Crown in Burchett’s Green. The chef’s ethos is “whatever makes me laugh and whatever makes me happy is what you’ll find on the menu” which I love. And I’d say my favourite hotel is THE PIG group. They’re always in the most beautiful locations and the food is fantastic.
Your three favourite local markets and suppliers?
Borough Market is always a good day out. I love all my suppliers, but Joseph Down at Flying Fish is one of my favourites. It’s the best sustainable seafood from British waters. The Beaconsfield Farmers’ Market is obviously amazing too. Even better that it is literally on our doorstep!
Favourite things to eat when you’re on holiday?
I like to eat what the locals eat. If a restaurant is full of locals, you know it’s going to be good. I love experimenting with new dishes when I’m abroad as well. Sometimes the best inspiration comes from just walking around a local supermarket or general store.
What mistake do inexperienced cooks tend to make?
Not managing their time correctly. Controlling kitchen chaos is key to team success. Allowing for distractions and things like interactions with guests ensures you’re not leaving yourself short of time. I also leave myself reminders constantly – whether it’s little notes or alarms.
Favourite ingredient and why?
The humble onion. It’s flavourful and it’s versatile. You can cook it in various ways and for various lengths of time, with a different outcome every time. I’ve incorporated it into lots of dishes at The Greyhound – as a rich accompaniment to hogget; a soubise sauce served over squash and kale; and even on our snack menu (crumpet, parmesan and onion).
Most over-rated dish/ ingredient?
A soufflé. It’s essentially just a fluffy cake that’s lacking flavour.
The dish you’re most proud of creating?
I’m not sure. I’m proud of everything I create for a small amount of time, but then want it to be better. Any dish that gets our guests’ seal of approval is a success in my eyes.
Tell us your best ever cooking tip?
Never be satisfied, work hard, and dream big. If you’re starting out as a chef or in another role in the hospitality industry, it’s tough (particularly now) but stick with it. Push yourself and the sky’s the limit.
Three dishes every home cook should master?
1. A good soup. Anyone can put liquid in a bowl and call it soup, but a good soup can put a smile on someone’s face. Pea and ham is a favourite of mine and an example of a classic that anyone can make, requiring little skill and few ingredients.
2. Roast chicken. There’s such a fine line between a perfectly cooked one and an overcooked one. Always use the stock to make the gravy, too. A roast is nothing without the gravy.
3. A beef wellington—the epitome of comfort food for me. It’s also a dish worth investing in a good beef fillet for.
Loads of us are really bored of our own cooking right now – any advice?
We’re really excited to have launched The Greyhound At Home service, so definitely check out the menu for that, which changes weekly. You can also sign up for the monthly newsletter for updates, recipes, and Margriet’s wine recommendations.
The Greyhound, 33 Windsor End, Beaconsfield, HP9 2JN. Tel: 01494 671315.