A look into the kitchen at Virgins & Castle with chef, Adam Bannister.
1. What did you do before joining the team at the Virgins & Castle?
Before joining the Virgins & Castle team, I was a chef at a small little bistro in Kenilworth. The bistro was popular with the locals and was a family owned business - which you could tell as soon as you stepped into the place! I ran the kitchen at the bistro for the last three or four years and I then started looking for a new and challenging opportunity within the industry and that’s when I found this role at the Virgins & Castle.
2. What made you want to become a chef?
Well, it all started when I was in school where I studied a BTEC in Hotel Catering and Institutional Management Operations (if I remember the name correctly!) which then led me along the path to becoming a chef.
I’ve always enjoyed cooking and creating delicious dishes for people to try. My godfather was a chef so that was what inspired me to become a chef from a young age. I grew up around pubs and restaurants, and technically I think I’m a fourth generation publican, which has come from both sides of the family. My godfather also owned both pubs and restaurants over the years, so I guess the hospitality industry almost came to me as second nature and the obvious career choice for me. After all, that’s what I was used to, and surrounded by when I was younger.
3. What were you inspired by when crafting the Autumn menu at the Virgins & Castle?
We love creating seasonal menus that are made from sourcing local ingredients and we make everything from scratch in the kitchen. When crafting the Autumn menu I wanted to include particular dishes which you wouldn’t usually find on a traditional pub menu such as our Chorizo Hash for a tasty starter course with Crushed New Potatoes, Red Pepper, Spring Onion, Fried Egg & Brown Sauce. But don’t worry, we have some tasty classic dishes on the menu too; like our 12oz Angus Ribeye Steak with Thick Cut Chips, Field Mushrooms, Grilled Tomato, Onion Rings & Watercress, with Peppercorn, Béarnaise or Garlic Butter. Or our plant-based Virgins & Castle Plant Burger with Vegan Applewood, Tomato & Red Onion Relish, Thick Cut Chips & Slaw, so there's a bit of something for everybody! Autumn is such a lovely season, and I wanted to play homage to this beautiful season with the new dishes.
4. What’s your favourite dish on the Autumn menu at Virgins & Castle?
It’s been great crafting the Autumn menu, but this is a difficult question as they’re all delicious! When it comes to food, it really does depend on my mood and what I fancy on the day. However, I think the most popular dish on the menu is going to be the Coq-Au-Vin with Garlic Mashed Potato, Chestnut Mushrooms, Onions & Smoked Bacon. It’s a crowd-pleaser for sure!
5. What’s the most extravagant dish you’ve ever had?
I love Sydney - it’s a great place to visit, with even better food! I’ve been there about four or five times, so if you haven’t been I’d recommend going. The most memorable and extravagant dish I’ve ever had was a Truffle Omelette. I’d never seen this dish served in a restaurant before and was definitely curious to try this combination. I like truffle, but I’m sad to say it was a little over the top for me (but I’m glad I’ve tried it). Needless to say that I do love serving our Truffle & Parmesan Skinny Fries and Thick Cut Chips - they are a really popular choice on our side dishes or as a tasty bar snack.
6. What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever been to?
Well I’m guessing I can’t include the Virgins & Castle… so it’s got to be back in Sydney… and I would probably say Rockpool. This was one of the first posh/high end restaurants I’d been to and it’s one of my favourites! It serves a selection of Asian fusion food and it’s delicious.
7. What’s your favourite seasonal ingredient to use?
I don’t have a specific favourite season, as every season has something new and different to offer in terms of ingredients and something to look forward to.
I love the first greens after roasted roots all winter, such as the first bits of purple sprouting broccoli. Strawberries in the summer months and asparagus from Worcestershire are always so fresh - and of course these ingredients never taste right any other time of the year. A great example of this on our Autumn menu is the Buttered Cabbage, Chestnut & Pancetta - it’s out of this world!
Discover our delicious Autumn menu today and we’d love to know what you think of the dishes that Adam and the team at Virgins & Castle have prepared. Let us know and look out for our new Christmas menu that will be available from Friday 26th November.