Chef Profile

Chef Profile Summer 2018: Adam Curley, head chef at Maldron Hotel Belfast City

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WHEN DID YOU FIRST GET INTO COOKING?
My mother was a cookery teacher and it was really important to her that all of us kids knew how to look after ourselves and cook independently, so she really sparked my love for cooking. Thanks to her, I was in the kitchen from an early age and cooking has always been a huge part of my life.

HAVE YOU ANY CULINARY QUALIFICATIONS?
Following on from my mother’s expert tutelage, I went to Belfast Met to get my NVQ. Dalata Hotel Group, the Maldron Hotel’s parent company, really support education and development in all their staff and recognise just how important it is for a chef to be constantly learning and developing new skills. This month actually marks the end of a fantastic training course myself and a few other head chefs and sous chefs within the company have taken. It’s a degree level qualification in Culinary Arts Management and has been a fantastic experience for all of us to develop our expertise and grow our skills.

WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND IN THE TRADE?
After I completed my degree, I went straight to Deanes at Queen’s and then spent five or six years between the various Deanes establishments in Belfast, which was a fantastic experience with a great variety of cooking styles and chef leadership to learn from. From there, I went to the Clayton Hotel in Belfast, also owned by Dalata Group, as the senior sous chef and, within a year, I was offered the position of head chef here in the Maldron.

HAS ANYONE INSPIRED YOU THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER?
To be honest, I’ve learnt something from every single chef I’ve worked with. I’ve taken inspiration not just from the head chefs I’ve worked under, but the chefs I’ve met and worked with at every level. You work so closely together, you can’t help but take inspiration from everyone you meet along the way.

WHEN DID YOU JOIN YOUR CURRENT VENUE?
I’ve been heading up the Maldron’s kitchen since it opened back in March, and it’s been an amazing experience so far to build the kitchen from scratch and see it come into its own.

WHAT STYLE IS YOUR COOKING?
My cooking is a real mix of influences and styles, so it’s very hard to pin it down. I think most chefs these days would say the same; there’s such a mix of nationalities, ages and expertise working in kitchens now that it creates a fantastic fusion. Particularly in hotels, people want a bit of everything, so it helps to be versatile and flexible.

WHAT IS YOUR FOOD SOURCING POLICY?
Sourcing the very best quality local food is a priority for all our Maldron Hotels, and we have a list of approved suppliers that we have built fantastic relationships with over the years and really know and trust. For instance, you’ll only find certified Irish Angus beef in our dishes.
We pride ourselves on creating one-of-a-kind menus for our Grain & Grill restaurants with fresh local produce, while our extremely knowledgeable bar staff concoct some of the best cocktails in the city – all free-poured.

WHAT SIZE IS YOUR STAFF?
Including myself, we have seven full-time chefs and five kitchen porters. It may seem like a lot but it’s all-hands-on-deck when the restaurant’s full.

WHOSE CAREER WOULD YOU WISH TO EMULATE?
To be honest, I don’t focus too much on other people’s careers. My main concern has always been developing my skills and growing a successful and dedicated team who produce the best quality dishes possible with the finest ingredients.

HAVE YOU ANY INTERESTS OUTSIDE OF WORK?
It can get pretty busy in the kitchen so time to wind-down and relax away from work is really important to me. With that said, I have two young daughters who keep me on my toes when I’m at home. Spending time with my family is definitely my favourite way to chill out.

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