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Adam Simmonds

Adam Simmonds

He left after three years at Le Manoir, where he was now sous chef, for his first head chef role at The Greenway in Cheltenham. In less than a year he had achieved a Good Food Guide rating of 7/10 and three AA rosettes. Next he joined the small, family-run Ynyshir Hall in Wales, achieving his first Michelin star in 2006, as well as 8/10 in the Good Food Guide and four AA rosettes.

In 2007 he made what he describes as 'the biggest decision of my life' – he walked away from what he had built in Wales, and started afresh at Danesfield House near Marlow. Here he was in charge of driving the restaurant forward – sourcing new suppliers, working with new people. He says this opportunity offered 'more competition, more responsibility and more of a challenge! The pressure to succeed commercially was turned up several notches because there were several Michelin-starred restaurants in the immediate location – most of which were run by celebrity chefs with regular television exposure. This would be very different to Ynyshir Hall.'

The gamble paid off, and over the next seven years Adam Simmonds went on to establish Danesfield House (later renamed Adam Simmonds at Danesfield House) as one of the finest restaurants in the country. The second Michelin star of his career was awarded in 2010, to which he added another four AA rosettes. He also earnt a further 8/10 rating in the Good Food Guide and his restaurant was placed 13th in the country in the publication’s 2013 list. Adam Simmonds says of his experience there: “I learnt that if the highest standards were achieved through the food we cooked and the service which was provided, then the marketing took care of itself.”

The seasons are at the heart of Adam Simmonds’ food – a focus influenced by his time at Le Manoir. He says: “For the food to be the best, you have to go seasonal. When produce comes in, it’s lovely to work with. There’s always a whole host of new things.” Particularly acclaimed at Danesfield House was his slow-cooked duck egg with duck confit, asparagus and cobnuts, his crab salad, mackerel tartare, cucumber and avocado and the stunning dessert of lemon parfait, fennel pollen ice cream, fennel granita, and olive oil jelly.

In 2014 he left Danesfield House to work on opening his own restaurant – a dream since he was young. 'I was sorry to leave,' he says, 'but it was a natural progression. I had achieved what I could achieve there. Now there’s only one challenge left, to create my own restaurant. To do this it takes time to focus on what needs to be achieved, this was something I couldn’t do whilst running the restaurants.

Over the years, Adam's style has evolved considerably. 'Style changes as you mature,' he explains. 'You become a more rounded chef. Before it was about how many things I could get on a plate and now it is about stripping it back and allowing the products to talk. It’s more about the ingredients than trying to be clever. That is how I’ve changed.'

Adam kept his hand in with a variety of consulting and temporary chef positions, whilst hunting for the perfect site. In April 2017, he found it – Adam's dream was realised when he opened The Test Kitchen in Soho – a pop-up, serving innovative small plates with a regularly changing menu. Diners could talk to the chefs and give feedback throughout the meal, working with the team to help dishes evolve over time.

The Test Kitchen was only a pop-up, and it closed at the end of 2017. Since then he worked as the head chef at Adam Handling Chelsea in the Belmond Cadogan Hotel, and is now set to become the executive chef of The Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge.

Three things you need to know

The Good Food Guide tipped Adam Simmonds as one of the decade’s “Chefs to Watch”.

He appeared on the 2013 and 2014 series of Great British Menu, going on to win a place in the veteran’s banquet for his D-Day brief.

He envisages his future restaurant as 'somewhere very relaxed, informal, and modern – hopefully all on one floor with glass so they can see into the kitchen.'