An Interview with Adam Bannister, Head Chef at Slice

Name: Adam Bannister

Place of work: Slice, Sketty

Role: Head Chef

How long have you been in this role: 18 months

Bio: Adam first ventured into the restaurant business with his best friend and fellow chef Chris Harris in May 2014 and within a year the Slice was listed in Michelin guide and Good Food Guide. Prior to that the Welsh chef worked as a protégé of Michelin-starred Stephen Terry. Adam also won the Welsh crown on the Great British Menu last year.

Follow Adam on Twitter: @SliceSwansea

What first made you go into the food sector?

For me above all it was for the love of food first really and enjoying it. From an early age I wouldn’t say it was necessarily understanding it, but it was just a passion of mine, I was intrigued by food in general. I started off as a pot washer, like many other chefs really, just watching chefs cook and I was paying an interest into what they were doing. It certainly wasn’t the greatest place, it was just a pub, but one day a chef didn’t turn up and I was asked to help out and it just went from there! When I started I felt the buzz straight away, I was hooked!

What do you like most about working as a chef?

I suppose for me it’s working with great produce and learning about new produce. Every day you see something new and you learn something new and that’s why for me I guess my love keeps on growing for food really!

Do you think there is too much emphasis for chefs to go straight into a restaurant?

I think it all depends on the college really. I was fortunate enough that with the college I was at it wasn’t like a normal course in the sense that some days you would do nine to five, but some days you would do a proper chefs day where you would start at nine in the morning and wouldn’t leave until 11 at night. It opens your eyes to what work is about and I was also fortunate that I was working at a good restaurant as well as being at college, I would leave there at four and start work at five. I suppose with a college course you learn everything and develop diverse skills, whereas if you’re working in an Italian restaurant then Italian food is what you’ll stick to. It all depends on what you want to achieve from it, I think if you start at college it gives you an open mind and you can see all the different sectors, however, I don’t think it prepares you well enough for the first day of work when you start your career.

Do you believe that students are encouraged enough to consider a career in catering?

I wouldn’t necessarily say so, I mean it’s not looked upon as being a really good career, but it really is! There’s definitely a major shortage of people who want to be in the industry, there’s a bit of a struggle at the moment with new people in the industry wanting to come through from college. I think there seems to be a problem where people think the job is all rosy and don’t acknowledge how hard the work is. The industry is changing and I suppose we’ve got more of an understanding that there needs to be a better work/life balance, which is the hardest thing. I don’t think it’s encouraged enough at school level as the word chef is quite openly used, you’re a chef when you’re working in some of the not so grand places and you’re still a chef when working in the best of places, so there’s a lack of understanding of what a chef needs to do. I

What would you advise for someone looking to follow in your footsteps?

Personally, I think that stages are great! A lot of good restaurants these days will take on stages at any level, you don’t necessarily have to be a trained chef to get a stage. I think it would be nice to see more businesses letting more people come in and see what the industry is about, experiencing what it’s like on a proper chefs’ day.

Anyone who rings us with an interest and wants to come along to do a day then we’ll have a few people come in and get them involved. One of my pet hates is how some businesses can treat people who come on stages, for example, if they are just like, peel those potatoes. We have a very strict policy as people are giving up their own time, they’re not getting paid so we want to show them what we do as they’ve given up their own time to come here. They are not allowed to stand by the sink, they’re not allowed to peel the potatoes, we want to see what they can do in a more skilled area of the kitchen.

If you could go back and do anything differently would you?

I’ve been grateful that I’ve worked everywhere I have, but maybe one of the things I would say is that I wish I’d moved away at a slightly younger age, sooner than when I actually did so I could see bigger and better restaurants. I think travel is a majorly important part of a chefs’ career and their development. So that’s one of my only things I would like to have done at an earlier age. I did move away, but I suppose I just left it that little too late. The first time I moved away I worked in the Swiss Alps, I was fortunate enough to still be cooking good food while enjoying a nice lifestyle. But then I came back to Swansea and stayed there until I was 21/22, then I started working away again, but ultimately I was always going to end up back in Swansea, that was always the plan. If I’d gone a couple of years earlier then I may have got in another one or two good restaurants!

*Post originally published by myself for the website theperfectstarter.com

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