Wimbledon’s head chef gets taste for Grand Slam success

In this file photo taken on July 10, 2020, Adam Fargin, executive chef at The All England Lawn Tennis Club prepares meals during the coronavirus pandemic. — AFP pic
In this file photo taken on July 10, 2020, Adam Fargin, executive chef at The All England Lawn Tennis Club prepares meals during the coronavirus pandemic. — AFP pic

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LONDON, June 28 — From smoked trout to the humble sandwich, Wimbledon’s executive chef Adam Fargin admits he is equally excited by both as he gets set to cater for all kinds of Grand Slam food tastes.

“It’s as great looking at a sandwich as it is at the high end dishes,” Fargin told AFP ahead of the two-week tennis showpiece which gets underway at the All England Club on Monday.

Fargin is entering what should have been his third Championships.

However, last year’s tournament was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic and instead he spent his time preparing dishes five days a week for 200 people in the local community.

Whilst he says there is lingering disappointment about last year, he adds there is “definitely an air of optimism and excitement around the venue to welcome customers through the door.”

Although there will be a reduced capacity of spectators this year, there will still be 1,600-2,000 staff involved in ‘Food and Drink at Wimbledon’ on site as opposed to the usual 3,000.

Fargin will directly oversee around 350, between chefs and store staff, and armed with a notebook he will conduct daily rounds of the various food outlets, from sandwich stalls to restaurants.

Prior to that routine is his opening day pep talk.

“There is a full briefing of the team and what my expectations are,” he told AFP.

“A lot also revolves around doing what they enjoy and that they are having fun in what they are doing and delivering.

“What I am doing is very much coaching and giving the possibility to people to make decisions by themselves. I trust them to do it.”

‘Brightens my day’

Fargin, who became a chef in 1999 and had a stint working in the United States before returning to his home county of Hampshire, says mutual trust is essential.

“Communications is one of the most vital things in this job. It is such a vast site so we have multiple ‘WhatsApp’ groups,” he said.

“I like to empower the staff and buy into what they think.”

The menus are usually drawn up in the September before the Championships but Fargin says they have largely stuck to those for last year.

“It is wonderful to see all that hard work which goes into devising the menus come to fruition,” he said.

“We have kept the menus very similar to what they would have been for last year’s Championships.

“Trends in food do change regularly and things go off the market so it is an evolving menu and not exactly the same based on what we had in 2019.

“Small improvements can make the world of difference to a dish.”

Fargin admits seeing the dishes served to the guests is a “nervy” time but is enthused by everything that is prepared.

“I spent a lot of time on the sandwich range and I especially like the Vegan one — avocado, roast tomato and pumpkin seed wrap,” he said.

“We put as much effort into a sandwich as any meal served through the grounds.

“Others that I am excited by are smoked trout and a trout tartare with a poached egg.

“For me it is as great looking at a sandwich as it is at the high end dishes.”

What is prepared is a far cry from Fargin’s preferred boyhood diet of cup cakes, French fries and chocolate milk.

He concedes old habits die hard and he has a chocolate bar and a caffe latte before he does his rounds in the morning.

“As a chef you rise to challenges, and I love it, that part of meeting such a challenge,” he said.

“At the end of each day there is a feeling of exhaustion but also pure satisfaction.”

Fargin says there is nothing better for him to take some of the pressure off than to speak with his family.

“A quick message from my boys (aged 7, 11, 13) in the morning and what they are up to brightens my day.

“I am in a much better place to get on with work duties.” — AFP               

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