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Foodservice Cateys 2018: Chef of the Year – Private Site – Adam Thomason, Restaurant Associates

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Foodservice Cateys 2018: Chef of the Year – Private Site – Adam Thomason, Restaurant Associates

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Adam Thomason’s career was spurred on by a week of work experience at the age of 15 at two-Michelin-starred Restaurant Sat Bains – and ever since, he has made furthering himself and the young chefs who come to work for him his utmost priority.

Thomason is a holder of the Master of Culinary Arts (MCA) from the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and two-time runner-up in the Craft Guild’s National Chef of the Year competition. He has regularly strived to grow his skills through competition work by going head to head with “the restaurant boys”. Earlier this year he told The Caterer: “Getting feedback from the judges is the reason I enter, as without it, you miss the chance to better yourself.”

In 2017 his two dishes – cured and poached Dover sole fillet, shiitake and spinach; and smoked bacon-wrapped red-legged partridge, caramelised shallot and apricot stuffing – won the support of the MCA’s judges four years after his mentor Jeremy Ford received the accolade. At the time he offered “a special thank you to Jeremy Ford, executive chef at Restaurant Associates, who has mentored me after also receiving this accolade four years previously. He has been a true inspiration and it’s great to learn from one of our team of expert chefs”. For his part Ford said he couldn’t “think of anyone more deserving of this honour than Adam”.

Across his career, Thomason has frequently put himself in situations where he can hone his craft. At 18, having worked part-time for Sat Bains for three years, he packed a bag and moved to Denmark to embrace the burgeoning Scandi food scene. He has always been unafraid to think outside the box. In 2016 he ran the pass at pop-up Flavour&Some at Carousel in Blandford Street, Marylebone. The concept combined cutting-edge food, choreographed dance and originally scored live music in a boundary-pushing experience for all the senses.

Now Thomason uses his position to support and nurture the talent of his team. As executive head chef at Deloitte for Restaurant Associates, he oversees five kitchens with 30 chefs covering a range of styles and needs including fine dining, events, hospitality and staff restaurant kitchens. He also recognises the importance of passing skills along the line. Thomason entered the industry through a BTEC in hospitality supervision at the University of Derby’s Buxton campus, and has introduced a successful apprenticeship scheme into his workplace, taking on two to three trainee chefs a year.

The judges of this year’s awards recognised Thomason’s incredible 100% staff retention and the impressive work he has undertaken in coaching his chefs to bring out the best of their skills.

What the judges said

“Adam achieves 100% staff retention by leading from the front and he consistently challenges himself. He believes in his staff and teaches them to go the extra step and to push the boundaries. Adam is passionate, a hard worker and will develop new generations of young chefs.”

Hanke Fischer, chef manager, Harbour & Jones

“A winner through and through. A great skill set and leadership combined with an honest passion for food.”

Alberto Crisci, founder, the Clink

“An impressive submission from an extremely talented cook, 100% staff retention and a proven track record in supporting and coaching his brigade at all levels to succeed and progress. An MCA winner and double runner-up in NCOTY is just further validation.”

Hayden Groves, executive chef, BaxterStorey

Phil Lee-Robinson BaxterStorey
Karen Poynter CH&Co Livery
Adam Thomason Restaurant Associates

Past winners
This award was split into two categories in 2016 to reflect the advance of private and public sites
2017 Dennis Mwakulua Restaurant Associates
2016 Steve Land Gather & Gather
2015 Hayden Groves, BaxterStorey
2014 Nick Vadis Compass Group
2013 Rob Kirby Lexington Catering

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