A taste for success: Islington chef Adam Thomason makes Roux scholarship semi-finals

Adam Thomason

Adam Thomason - Credit: Archant

Islington chef Adam Thomason has made it to the semi-finals of a prestigious cooking competition. The Gazette chats to him about his food inspirations and future ambitions.

Adam's shortlisted dish

Adam's shortlisted dish - Credit: Adam Thomason

“It sounds strange,” says Islington chef Adam Thomason, 29, “but food excites me.

“Every month when wild garlic or mushrooms are coming into season I get excited because it’s something new.”

Adam, who lives in Holloway Road, is one of just a handful of chefs to make it through to the semi-final in the prestigious Roux scholarship – a battle to find Britain’s best young chef.

He told the Gazette: “It feels exciting to get through. It’s an amazing achievement, though it’s very nerve wracking.

“There are three rounds to the competition. The first is a paper round; the second is the semi-final and the last is the grand final.”

For the paper round, Adam had to submit an original recipe, along with pictures, to some of the industry’s top names. The judges included Saturday Kitchen’s James Martin and Masterchef’s Michel Roux Jr.

Adam Thomason: 'My passion for food is too huge. I couldn't imagine doing anything else'

Adam Thomason: 'My passion for food is too huge. I couldn't imagine doing anything else' - Credit: Adam Thomason

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At the regional semi-final today (Thurs), Adam will have two and a half hours to cook his submitted recipe, and must also invent dessert from a set of mystery ingredients.

Adam was first exposed to the world of professional cooking while on work experience at a catering firm aged 16. He was offered a job after just a few weeks and, despite being a keen gymnast at the time, he decided to enrol in catering college to pursue his new-found love of food.

Adam is now a head chef at a fine dining restaurant inside Deloitte in New Street Square, and has strong ideas about what makes great food.

But Adam says Islington’s food scene more than makes the grade.

“Islington is a fun place to be – there’s plenty going on, and it’s definitely diverse,” he says. “It’s heading in the right direction to be a great gastro hub for foodies to make a trip to.

“My favourite place to eat in Islington is La Fromagerie. It isn’t a big place and I’d love it to stay a secret, but the cheeses and cured meats are amazing! And for drinking, The Bar with No Name is definitely a favourite.”

Adam Thomason with Michel Roux Jr (left), after coming second in a French contest

Adam Thomason with Michel Roux Jr (left), after coming second in a French contest - Credit: Archant

So what inspires Adam’s cooking?

“It’s a question I’m asked a lot. You can get inspiration from everything if you keep your eyes open.

“It could be a hotdog that you ate one night or a meal you had at a restaurant or even a childhood memory.”

Adam believes dining should be an immersive experience and is launching a pop-up event at the end of the month.

“My girlfriend is a dancer and we were talking about how, when people watch a play or performance, they’d go for a meal before or after.

“We decided that if we combine the three it would be much more effective.”

The pop-up event, Flavour and Some, will be held at Carousel Restaurant in Baker Street from March 25 to 27.

“The idea is that you’d sit, like a restaurant, but you’ll be surrounded by dancers and a quartet,” he says.

Food is such an important part of Adam’s life that he couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

“My passion for food is too huge,” he says. “I also want to have my own restaurant – but it’ll be more than just a place to eat. It’ll be a creative hub where people can meet and listen to music. It’ll be an experience.”