Top 50 Gastropubs

Adam Handling MBE

Amassing numerous accolades and cultivating an empire of restaurants, marking remarkable milestones throughout his illustrious career

What got you into cooking?

I wish I had a romantic story about how I became a chef, like growing up beneath my grandmother's table, but I really didn't. I come from a proper humble background and my mum has that mentality of go to university, get your qualifications, and do a project. But I was a pain in the bottom as a child and I never really liked school. So, after wearing her down, she allowed me to leave school, but as long as I got an apprenticeship, I didn’t have to go to university. I got my first apprenticeship at Gleneagles. When I got into it, I fell in love with it massively, a happy accident, perhaps.

What do you enjoy most about your industry?

I love this industry because every day is different. Food is natural, so nothing is the same. The people that we have working for us are awesome characters, but the great thing is with food and drinks is that you can create a memory.

We have all open kitchens, so we have the opportunity to make people smile and make a memory with our food and I just love it. You know, we get so much gratification for just looking after and making people happy. That's what I love.

With a background in hotels and restaurants, what inspired you to go down the gastropub route?

I've always wanted a pub, something where it's really but it's really hearty food, proper British, really old school buildings and very sexy. So, when one crossed me, I was like, let's just dive right in.

I’ve never been a publican, but I’ve got my experience, so let's just do the best we can from the experience of restaurants and learn as we go when it comes to having a gastropub.

Make it accessible, make it fast, make it fun, make it family orientated and a place where I would eat every single day, and we did just that.

What do you think makes the Loch & Tyne stand out?

The people, without a shadow of a doubt. Their determination to really make one of the best gastropubs in the country as sustainable as possible and to make it fun and accessible is their goal that they are smashing. Without them, I’m nothing.

Why is sustainability important to you and was it always a part of your ethos when opening the Loch & Tyne?

Yes, sustainability for me is the most important things to do in a restaurant. A lot of people associate that word with the world, green and all that jazz. For me, it's tomorrow’s sustainability. So, to look after everything for tomorrow. That could be a phenomenal training programme within the group so that young chefs can come in and actually get their qualifications through us. They can they learn everything from butchery to fishmongery, the whole shebang. It's about educating the future of the industry in a way where when they then leave us, they can continually push that knowledge out and the industry itself will grow.

It's about buying directly from a farm and utilisation of everything, waste management of the animal or vegetable. It's buying British, making it as local as possible. Obviously if you’re in central London like The Frog, that can go out the window. There's a lot of things which are not necessarily on the doorstep. We stay in the UK, but slightly wider fields, from Windsor for example.

It's all about that word tomorrow, the ethos was to make sure that we had a restaurant that could pay the bills and stay open tomorrow.

If I can make sure that I have 225 beautiful staff inside of the group that can pay their bills and have job security that don't have to the stress of going home and pulling their hairs out about what's going to happen tomorrow, then that sort of stuff is sustainable to me.

What small changes do you think more kitchens be making to help with their sustainability efforts?

Best thing into a new kitchen, hobs that when you remove your pan off it, you can touch it and it's cold so it doesn't put out a lot of energy. It only does it when the product needs to be cooked. It's a super energy efficient, that way you'll save money long term. Some upfront costs, but years down the line you save on electricity bills. It's all the little things about how can you invest into a place if you really believe it's going to have longevity.

Invest in training, don't have bins in the kitchen, only have buckets that you can then pour in the bin so that you can see what your wastage is.

What does being a Top 50 Gastropub mean to you?

I think any business needs to have goals. Now our goal is to eventually be the top of that list. We aspire to be the best we possibly can in our own environment, we don't compete with anyone. We compete with our own personal best, to be better tomorrow than we were today. Having that goal in our minds will keep the whole team hungry to push hard.