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Meet the chef: Jerry Adam at The Swan at Hay Hotel in Wales

Head Chef Jerry Adam at Swan at Hay Hotel 2017 kitchen

The recently revamped The Swan at Hay Hotel is a privately owned, independent hotel just minutes from the bustling centre of the world reknowned ‘Town of Books’, Hay-on-Wye, on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

The hotel underwent a complete refurbishment at the start of 2017 and is now home to 19 luxury bedrooms, a fine dining restaurant, two separate bars and a wedding and events hall.

The restaurant is under the culinary control of recently appointed Head Chef Jerry Adam, who has created new modern, local menus, including seasonal Welsh dishes using produce from local suppliers. Jerry has previously worked in the Michelin-stared kitchens of Ynyshir Restaurant, Llangoed Hall and the Bath Priory.

We had the recent opportunity to sit down with Jerry to talk about how he is settling in to his new role and to learn more about this rising culinary talent.

Tell us how your culinary career started?
It started washing up whilst still in school in a Michelin starred pub called the Olive Branch in Rutland, one night the game keeper brought a whole deer in and started taking it apart right in front of me, I thought it was amazing and asked could I have some shifts in the kitchen and here I am.

The restaurant holds one AA Rosette

How did you arrive at The Swan at Hay as Head Chef?
The Swan at Hay is owned by Llangoed Hall where I was the Sous Chef for almost 3 years. Whilst I was at Ynyshir Hall, Calum Milne called and offered me the position, so I accepted and took my first Head Chef role. The Swan at Hay has just launched and we have an exciting year ahead.

You have unveiled several menus including The Garden Room Menu which you offer Tuesdays – Saturdays. Tell us about this menu.
This menu is an extension of my personality taking diners on a journey through my career to show them what I have learnt from the very talented chefs I have worked under. The menu is a longer menu and showcases a greater variety of produce and styles.

You have three dining spaces at the newly launched hotel. How did you decide what would work best for which room? The bar menu for example, offers great choice, more than many bar menus.
Well the Market Bar is a cosy room where guests can relax, so we decided to offer the bar menu in there, so guests can chill out and have comfy, easy food to eat. The bar menu offers many dishes including traditional comfort food and some Welsh inspired dishes too.

What is your favourite restaurant and why?
The best meal I had ever eaten was at Ynyshir Hall which is why I decided to work there, closely followed by restaurant Sat Bains. Both offered relaxed environments but were still professional and the food was amazing.

Where do you like to travel to for culinary inspiration?
You can get inspiration from anywhere, it’s just how you interpret and think outside the box. I try to go on a foodie holiday once a year with my partner. This year we went to Paris, last year to Copenhagen, I just have to find time! There is plenty of culinary inspiration here in Wales with the variety of produce available.

Tell us about plans for the herb garden
We have only just started the plans for the garden but we want to grow our own soft herbs, root vegetables, onions, kale, pumpkins. We are also looking at getting hydroponics in the greenhouse and the gardener is really keen. I’m looking forward to working with him.

The hotel has just undergone an extensive refurbishment

Why do you think Wales has become such a foodie destination?
I think it’s because people are now realising the produce you can source from Wales is some of the best in the UK. Wales is so beautiful, there is an abundance of things you can pick from the countryside.

How do you inspire your team?
We go out foraging together, planning menus together, get them to come up with projects, anything we can do all together.

Hay-on-Wye is a very popular destination but lacks award-winning dining spots, what hopes do you have for The Swan at Hay over the coming years?
Myself, Ronan the General Manager and the team at the Swan at Hay are just going to plug away doing what we do! People seem to be really enjoying their time here. There are a variety of menus available showcasing different styles and there are several dining spots to experience here, so all-in-all, there are good foundations in place. We look forward to welcoming many guests to the hotel’s three dining destinations.