“If you want to cook with finesse and still keep your fingers, I think knife skills are the one thing that all chefs must have,” says Chef Myers-Adams, the Executive Head Chef of the Table Bay Restaurant. It is no surprise, therefore, that her favourite kitchen tool is a chef’s knife she bought in Toronto’s Chinatown fifteen years ago. With international experience and critical acclaim under her belt this advice from one of South Africa’s most talented chefs is not to be taken lightly. Her first chef job was as garde manger at Canoe, a fine dining restaurant in Toronto headed up by Chef Anthony Walsh, one of Canada’s best chefs. Chef Myers-Adams has also worked with Conrad Gallagher as a consultant to Sun International, and Gordon Ramsay at his restaurant in Chelsea. Her international work experience also includes restaurants in Australia, the Bahamas, Corsica, and Monaco, and private yachts.
This expansive culinary education and career could not have come without a measure of hard work and dedication to her craft. In her own words, growing up on a farm equipped her with a strong work ethic. “I have always had a healthy appetite for challenges,” she says. “I always strive to provide the best food; to elevate my service to the next level; and to improve my working atmosphere.”
Over the course of her career, Chef Myers-Adams has been guided by a philosophy that has helped her to produce some exquisite food: “Start with a brilliant product and showcase it—keep it simple.” In addition to this, she is also inspired by nature. “The changing seasons provide different ingredients to play with—this allows me to create dishes that capture the flavours of each season.”
This willingness to work with whatever the seasons provides explains why her top ingredients of the moment are porcini, pomegranate, and wild fennel.
Chef Myers-Adams, like many professional chefs, notes that the culinary road is not easy. “It is tough, but if you love it you have to keep at it. It is worth it,” she says. “As a novice, the most important thing you can do is keep your head down and learn as much as you can—listen carefully.”
Her words of encouragement also form the foundation of her recruitment policy. “I always look for someone who is enthusiastic about food—someone who is driven and prepared to work hard.” Chef Myers-Adams believes that dedication and passion are the two attributes young chefs should possess in order to progress in their careers.
Her kitchen rules also reflect her total immersion in her career and desire to produce food of the highest quality. “You have to taste everything you make. Always. And cleanliness is of the utmost importance,” says Chef Myers-Adams.
With a career as decorated as hers there is always an amusing kitchen story to share. For example, Chef Myers-Adams’ craziest moments in her career was discovering that 130 people had been given a different menu to the one the kitchen had just minutes before they were to sit down. Of course, this situation could have thrown many people into a panic attack—but being the head of a kitchen team means that you need a knack for keeping your head cool when everyone else is busy losing theirs. That is why after calling other restaurants and rushing to various shops her kitchen team was able to assemble the menu that the guests had been promised.
Chef Myers-Adams also trained and practiced as a sommelier and designs her dishes with perfectly paired wines to create the best possible culinary experience. Inspiring and accomplished, she is definitely one of South Africa’s finest and she was kind enough to share her exquisite smoked salmon trout with petit salad recipe with us.
Smoked Salmon Trout with Petit Salad