CHEF TOM SHEPHERD
Head Chef at Adam’s Restaurant, Birmingham, UK
“Winning awards isn’t what drives me…
but it certainly helps”
Our Chef Works Wearers* blog series is all about the people behind our uniforms; the boundary-pushing chefs, baristas, bakers and chocolatiers making their mark in the UK hospitality scene and defining success on their own terms.
Tom Shepherd, Head Chef at Adam’s Restaurant in Birmingham, is one of those chefs. He’s achieved a lot, most recently an Acorn Award which recognise the brightest young talent in the UK hospitality industry.
Trained by culinary legends Sat Bains and Michael Wignall, Tom made an incredible start to his career after strongly believing his life calling was to do something with food. Working at The Samling in the Lake District, which gained its first Michelin star while he was working there at the young age of 23, was one of his biggest achievements; one which he then used to secure a job working under Michael Wignall at The Latymer and following that, with Sat Bains as development chef in the Nucleus.
Working with this calibre of chefs and restaurants drove Tom to start his own
pop-up restaurant (The Development Kitchen) and catch the eye of Adam Stokes,
who wanted Tom to evolve his restaurant, Adam’s. Tom accepted the role of
Head Chef in August 2017.
We recently sat down with Tom to find out more about his achievements, his views
on awards in general and other chefs that inspire him.
“I’m still on cloud nine to have won an Acorn Award…”
“…I got put forward for the award by Alasdair Elwick from The Samling. I was so honoured that he’d taken the time to nominate me, then to get a call to say I’d won was just incredible. Some absolute legends have been Acorn winners in the past, so I’m really proud to be in the same net and to have made an impression.”
“I’ve never been on MasterChef or anything…”
“…I don’t believe in being a superstar overnight; I can see that today’s consumers are hungry for celebrities and that provides a pull to get more people in your restaurant, but the real hard work is done by the grafters, who in some cases genuinely don’t have the time for TV work at such a young age. I feel they should keep their heads down and learn as much as possible in top kitchens.”
“One of my team was on MasterChef in 2016 and people still come in and ask for photos of her.
“Saying that, I’d love to be on the Great British Menu show on the BBC – some of my heroes have appeared on there. I’d love to represent Birmingham and the restaurant better, along with some of the other extremely talented chefs we have in this great city, to really show our food off to a wider audience.”
“The Roux Scholarship is the most coveted award, in my opinion…”
“…The Roux’s are simply the Godfathers of our industry; the scholarship is by far the most respected within the industry and rightly so. Past winners have gone on to do incredible things.
“The Top 50 World’s Best Restaurants Awards are also very prestigious. Although the UK isn’t hugely represented in it, I’m always inspired by those that make the list.”
“I’ve got a list of restaurants that I’d like to get to before the year is up…”
“…It’s what inspires me. Firstly getting to visit my mentors, Sat Bains and Michael Wignall. Then there’s The Fat Duck, which is something completely different to the other three star restaurants we have in the UK. It’s an education, a show – I can’t wait for the whole experience of it again, especially after the refurb. I went five years ago and it was my most memorable dining experience ever; a real exhibition in how to operate. Places have come close, but as a whole experience, it hasn’t been surpassed.
“Paul Ainsworth’s No 6, and Cornerstone (Tom Brown’s new place in Hackney Wick), are definitely must-sees for me. Tom came across so well on Great British Menu. These are the kind of guys I respect and want to follow in their footsteps. I’m also making it my mission to get over to Whatley Manor to see what Niall Keating’s doing there, as I’ve heard it’s incredible.”
“Closer to home, I’m loving the scene in Birmingham, UK right now. You’ve got Michelin stars to burger joints and everything in between. Original Patty Men has to be one of my favourite places to go on my days off – proper sloppy, tasty burgers, filled to the max and the chips are killer! On the other side, Folium in the Jewellery Quarter is amazing – I’m sure they’ll get a star this year.”
“I’d love to gain two stars at Adam’s…”
“…To establish that sort of product as Head Chef would be such an achievement. I’m really evolving the food here; I’m still young and I’m putting my stamp on things. I’ve got an amazing team now and the support from Adam is genuinely incredible, he backs my every move – so along with my experience, it’s achievable in my eyes. I won’t rest on my laurels.”
“There are two particular chefs I believe are really on the verge of picking up awards and getting the media glory…”
“…And they’re both in Hackney, London. Tom Brown’s ethos food looks fantastic and he deserves all the praise he’s getting. I also think it’s time for Kirk Haworth, Nigel’s son, to really shine. He was diagnosed with Lyme disease which put a slight hold on his career, but he recently set up his own restaurant, Plates, with his sister and brother-in-law, it’s a massive one to watch. Plant-based cooking and evolving vegan menus, which in turn is a diet that Kirk has taken up. I love what he’s doing, especially with turning a negative into such a positive.”
Thank-you to Tom for taking part in our #ChefWorksWearers series. He and his team at Adam’s wear the Capri Premium Chef Coat: “It looks super sharp, is well fitted, extremely well made and very comfortable. What we need from a chef coat is durability, but at the same time a good fit and design where the quality shines through. We get that in the Capri.”
- Instagram: tom_chef1
- Twitter: @tom_chef1
Photographer: Jack Spicer