Adam Gray

Adam Gray

Adam Gray

Adam Gray consistently pulls off classic British flavours with grace, intelligence and an admirable lightness of touch.

Growing up in East Haddon, Northamptonshire, Adam Gray was set on becoming a chef by fourteen, and was the only boy in his school to choose home economics. He washed pots at village pub, The Red Lion, while studying for three years at Northampton College, completing a City and Guilds day release catering apprenticeship. Adam moved to London in 1989, cooking under Bruno Loubet at the Four Seasons Hotel, and following a short stint working in Melbourne, Australia, returned to the UK to work under Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons.

After meeting Gary Rhodes in 2001, he was made head chef of the Michelin-starred City Rhodes, maintaining its star until he left in 2003 to open the new restaurant Rhodes Twenty Four at Tower 42 in the heart of London, where his acclaimed cuisine was complemented by stunning vistas from the twenty-fourth floor. Under Adam's management, the restaurant was awarded various accolades, including BMW Best New Restaurant 2004, three AA rosettes and the all-important Michelin star, which he retained for eight years until his departure.

In 2011, Adam returned to his home village and to The Red Lion, which by then he co-owned, furthering its transformation into one of the area’s premier culinary destinations. The country pub was awarded a Bib Gourmand in the 2012 and 2013 UK Michelin Guides, which is bestowed on restaurants that offer good food at moderate prices. The Shires Cookery School opened around the same time, housed in a converted barn in the grounds of the pub, offering a range of specialist courses focused on culinary skills and technique. While he's parted ways with both since then, they're a testament to Adam's versatility as a chef.

An executive chef job at Skylon on the South Bank called Adam back to London where his focus was on 'great, simple food that you really want to eat, using the best quality ingredients' presented against a backdrop of stunning, panoramic views across the Thames and bustling South Bank.

Adam further describes his food as modern British – classic, simple and honest, but with an inventive twist, coaxing Michelin-starred quality out of seasonal ingredients. The menus at Skylon, prepared with craft and imagination, reflected this, augmenting classic dishes with memorably unusual elements. Think mackerel served with rhubarb chutney; an English minestrone combined with soft potato gnocchi, and beef fillet steak paired with oxtail and creamed spinach.

Adam is not only creative in the kitchen; he also organises and manages his workplace and staff extremely effectively, priding himself on treating his brigade with 'honesty, respect and consistency', really understanding their strengths and weaknesses. Describing his management style as 'leading from the front', he makes a point of not asking his team to do something he isn’t prepared to do. This approach has paid off, with staff that have 'a tendency to stay with me from one kitchen to the next.'

Adam is devoted to nurturing young talent and in 2003 set up a Chef’s Academy in Northamptonshire College which offers work experience placements to gifted students, some of which have gone onto full-time employment in Rhodes Twenty Four. In 2012, Northamptonshire University awarded him an Honorary Master of Science, in recognition of this commitment to development and training.

But it is not only young people entering the world of work that Adam is focused on – he is also keen to pass on his passion for food to children, starting with his own young son. He believes in getting children to talk about food – to touch, feel and taste everything – while learning valuable lessons about the importance of a healthy diet. 'Children’s palates develop very quickly,' says Adam, stressing the importance of making sure 'they try different things as they grow up'. As a member of The Academy of Culinary Arts, he's been involved in their ‘Adopt a School’ programme – a national charity tackling health inequalities and a lack of knowledge about food and healthy eating in schools in deprived areas with a high percentage of free school meals.

Eating healthily and staying fit is extremely important to Adam and he is one of the fittest chefs out there, finding time in his already punishing schedule to compete in competitions such as Tough Mudder and Vertical Rush (a race to the top of Tower 42). 'I have to keep fit every day,' he explains. 'I train, I cycle, I swim and I do Krav Maga (Israeli unarmed combat)'.

A diet that will keep him going through these incredibly busy, physically demanding days is paramount and Adam champions highly nutritious foods, using complex carbohydrates, natural sugars and healthy fats where possible. This is not to say that he sacrifices taste, however, rather that he believes in sensible, healthy substitutions and making nutritious food taste great. He has been an Eat Fit feature writer for Men’s Fitness magazine since 2012 and has also been a judge for the Coeliac UK Gluten-Free Chef of the Year competition. In 2019, he was invited to Sandhurst by the British Field Army and has since developed The Healthy Soldier Cookbook for military personnel.

He credits his success to hard work – working harder than others and staying focused – coupled with a strong desire to 'be the best…whatever you put in you will be able to take out and reap the rewards'.

In 2015, Adam left his position at Skylon to take up the job as executive chef of the Bourne and Hollingsworth group, where he lets the ingredients do the talking and serves them in a relaxed setting. He stayed there for around two years, before leaving in early 2017 to pursue a career in chef consultancy. He then worked for a number of years as the executive chef at Number Five at Devonshire Club, a private members' club in London with a restaurant open to the public at weekends, until it closed in 2020. He then had a stint as executive chef at the Galvin Bar and Grill before, in March 2022, joining London hotel The Stratford as executive chef.