Five minutes with… Adam Handling

The chef and owner of Frog by Adam Handling and Adam Handling Chelsea reveals his love of cauliflower, travel and notebooks

Food and Drink 8 Oct 2019

Adam Handling

Adam Handling

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Always have a notebook in your back pocket, always ask why, and taste everything.

 Do you have a role model?

As a chef, I’m really inspired by Sat Bains and the way he creates such delicious, British food that uses techniques and influences from all around the world. I was also mentored by Massimo Bottura, who taught me how to look at food differently to reflect my own personal experiences. That had a huge influence on my cooking.

 What ingredient can you not live without?

Cauliflower is one of my favourite ingredients to use when cooking, which may surprise some people whose only memories of it are the over-boiled vegetable in school dinners. But with a little creativity, cauliflower can turn into something delicious, and that’s why I love it. My tip would be to try charring it – it adds a great depth of flavour.

What do you always take with you when you travel?

I always have a notepad with me. It’s so handy to be able to write something down immediately when inspiration hits – you never know when you might taste or smell something that ignites your creative spark.

Do you have a favourite spirit that you’ve discovered when travelling?

I’ve spent a lot of time travelling round Asia and as such, I’ve become a huge fan of sake. We actually have a dedicated sake list at my flagship restaurant in Covent Garden, Frog by Adam Handling. I think it’s important to experience different cuisines and then think about how I can incorporate that into my style of cooking.

 Where are your favourite places to eat in London?

I think Core by Clare Smyth epitomises what a great restaurant should be. I love everything about it: its informal dining approach, its Britishness… the food is outstanding and everything comes together beautifully. I also recently visited The Greenhouse in Mayfair and I had the best meal I’ve had in my life there. Truly incredible.

 What do you do on a day off?

I don’t often have days off – it comes with the territory of running your own company. But when I’m not working, I love having family time with my son, Oliver. I also love to eat out and try new restaurants as much as I can. As a chef it’s really important to keep updated with new restaurants, especially in London as it’s constantly evolving. I can’t wait for Oliver to get a little bit older so he can start coming and trying them with me.

 What are your biggest passions outside of cooking?

I love to travel. I’ve travelled a lot in my life – when I was younger, I spent a few years living in Germany and I’ve also spent a lot of time travelling round Asia. As a chef, you have to constantly be exploring with food, connecting dots and always creating and adding to your repertoire. People are important, too – food is so personal and different people in countries all over the world have different tastes and preferences, and they can introduce you to so many interesting things.

 If you could invite anyone, dead or alive, to a dinner party, who would it be?

My grandmother would have to be top of the list. Unfortunately she’s no longer with us, but when she was alive she was a great support to me and I would love to have the chance to cook for her now. I’d like to think she’d be proud of what I’ve achieved.