Q&A: Chef John Adams Dishes on What’s Next
The recently departed Plow & Anchor executive chef opens up.
You announced your departure from Plow & Anchor in early January. What have you been up to since then?
Primarily, I’ve been decompressing, catching up on life, spending time with my girlfriend and my family, and trying to get healthier. I’ve been studying some alternative diets and different approaches to food and exploring some other non-restaurant directions for my career.
What does letting go of the day-to-day leadership of a restaurant kitchen allow you to do as a chef?
It allows a lot more time and energy for things in life other than working. I think it’s easy to forget that people in many occupations take time between jobs at certain points in their career to observe life, travel, study their craft, and re-energize the creativity and passion that got them there in the first place.
Your first project—a pair of supper-club dinners in collaboration with Nicole and Eli Anderson, your old H2O Sushi colleagues, happens this Friday and Saturday. What’s it like working with them again?
It’s only been about 3 1/2 years, but a lot has happened for all of us since then. I think the Andersons are at a similar point in their careers where they’re looking toward the future and asking themselves if a traditional restaurant-chef life is their end goal.
The dinners this weekend will emphasize Asian flavors, and the centerpiece of the meals will be Bo Ssam, a slow-cooked pork-shoulder dish made famous by Momofuku chef David Chang. What continues to draw you to Asian flavors and techniques?
Asian cuisine will always be a major influence on my cooking. It was traveling to Asia that inspired me to cook professionally in the first place. Asian food has such beautiful, deep, dynamic flavors, and yet it can be so balanced, nuanced, light, and refreshing. Plus, Asians basically invented cooking.
What else can John Adams fans expect in the months ahead?
They can expect a series of supper-club dinners where I’m pairing up with other chefs, bartenders, and sommeliers to explore different world cuisines and influences. I’m available for small catering jobs and private cooking lessons as well. Another restaurant may be in my future, but not anytime soon.