Chef Adebola Adeshina says sustainability is at the heart of his new restaurant The Yard: “70% of our vegetables and herbs will be homegrown”.
The opening of The Yard, an alfresco dining restaurant based in the ‘backyard’ of the acclaimed, Michelin-recognised The Chubby Castor in Cambridgeshire, has been a labour of love for Chef Adebola Adeshina since opening earlier this summer.
The Yard is a 50-seater venue, located behind the Grade II listed, thatched The Chubby Castor, and offers a relaxed alternative to the fine dining restaurant menu. Central to The Yard is the commitment to sustainability, a good portion of the seasonal produce and vegetables served in the restaurant is grown in raised beds beside the outdoor restaurant’s terrace.
As part of our ‘Meet the Chef’ series, we spoke to Chef Adebola Adeshina to learn more about why he wanted to become a chef, his biggest influences and what his foodie favourites are.
What made you want to become a chef?
I’ve always wanted to be a chef as far as I can remember. I grew up with five sisters at home and coming from a Yoruba background (one of the three major tribes in Nigeria), the whole family was always around cooking and stuff, so yeah, I think I’ve always loved cooking. My sisters, my mum and everybody around me cooked and so I guess I picked up my love of cooking from them.
I’ve always had a love of farming too. Although my father was a bank manager, he was always close to nature and our family had a bit of land back in Lagos. I wasn’t involved in the farming personally, but I saw people doing it and it was something that I’ve always loved.
What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?
I wouldn’t change anything because I think everything’s all about learning. The only thing I would say to him is to just keep working.
If you were not a chef, what career path would you have taken?
Probably a pilot. I liked planes when I was younger. There was a relative who was in the military on my mother’s side of the family. He would often come around to say hello to us and I really liked his uniform. I’d always thought that I’d probably be a pilot. But I don’t think I was smart enough when it came to numbers.
What’s behind your commitment to sustainability at The Yard?
My love of nature and being outdoors has grown since opening The Chubby Castor four years ago. I first started growing a small amount of produce myself, in the garden behind the restaurant shortly after opening and this increased my passion for growing my own ingredients, which is every chef’s dream.
Sustainability is at the heart of our approach. We care about the provenance, sourcing and ethics of the ingredients we use, and we believe that food that has been raised correctly, grown responsibly and sourced locally, wherever possible, heightens the enjoyment of our guests and the planet as a whole.
We’re proud that at The Yard, 70% of our vegetables and herbs are homegrown and we use local suppliers where possible, which means that the produce we use is seasonal and has low mileage.
What’s your favourite dish on The Yard’s menu?
The radicchio salad. It’s made up of hazelnuts, orange, orange with vinaigrette and radicchio salad.
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If you got a new dog, what would you call it? (Chef Adeshina currently owns two dogs called Sage & Basil, which feature on the company logo)
I would call it Thyme!
What advice do you have for young aspiring Black chefs?
That they can do anything they put their mind to. That they should focus on what they want to do and not let anybody stop them. I know what it can be like in the kitchen, regardless of what anybody says, just keep your head down and do it.
Who was your favourite celebrity chef to work with?
I think Gordon [Ramsey] is my favourite so far because obviously I spend a lot of time with him. I also admire Eric Chavout, I learnt a lot about flavours from him. I admire his techniques when it comes to flavours.
In your view, what are the best food flavours to combine?
I think these days evolution is non-stop when it comes to flavours, anything can work but I think you just have to test and re-test it. Nowadays you’ve got people travelling all over the world, spices are being mixed together, new flavours are coming through. My best flavours to combine are the Japanese flavours, the French and obviously I like Yoruba flavours as well.
If you had to pick a cuisine, based on a country, where would you be living?
That’s a tough one. If it’s just based on the cuisine, I’d get bored of it after a while. However, if it’s for just six months, I think Africa, there’s just so much you can discover flavour-wise there.
On the menu at The Yard, expect gourmet burgers, spatchcock chicken, fresh lobster, fish and oysters, steaks, plus vegan and vegetarian options.
Bookings are advisable but walk-ins are welcome. To make a booking, call 01733 380801 or email email@example.com
For more information, visit The Yard Castor website.