CAFE ADAM

Located in Great Barrington, Café Adam is owned by Chef Adam Zieminksi. INTERVIEW: “My parents had a small bakery, and I was a dishwasher. And, there was a café next to it next door. And, there was some flambéing going on next door, there were salads with strange vinaigrettes … things like this. And, I would go over and watch the chef over there, and I was awestruck. I went to culinary school, I won a scholarship through a cooking contest, which made it all the more exciting. Went abroad university, and I worked in Wales. After that, I cooked in London – I went to Connaught in the middle of Mayfair, one of the great French cuisine institutions, chosen because of its reputation in French cuisine, which I knew would be the foundation for a very solid culinary career for myself.”

“My cuisine is well-rooted in the classics, with modern details applied to some of the dishes. Some of the dishes are totally original,, and some are riffs on classics. I think that kind of goes along with anything, with art and music, you see chefs and artists and musicians doing the same thing. But, I believe to put a cuisine out that people want to come back for, you have to have some dishes that are classic, foundation dishes … signature dishes.”

“We do a scallops dish, for instance, with a simple parsnip puree, and we sear some scallops and perch those atop of the puree. Then I saute off some sea beans – which are interesting, they’re like a marsh vegetable, and we get them from Cape Cod – with some local spinach. I do a pan sauce and deglaze it with some Pinot Grigio, and finish it with some local butter. It’s very simple, but extremely satisfying, and it seems to go with all seasons.“

“I’ve always been fascinated with French bistros and French brasseries and there’s a little bit of that at Café Adam. I would never try to imitate the great houses in Paris, but you can get a nice platter of oysters and a bottle of Beaujolais and a bowl of bouillabaisse. And, I think that transports people.”

“I’ve traveled extensively in my life. It was so worth it. You go, and you seek out these little places. I hope and I think that’s what’s happening with us. We get people that travel to see us. They go on an adventure to sit down with us. It’s emotional for me- it’s touching to hear people come in and say how long they’ve been waiting to eat a meal here, or how far they came.”

“Like Bob Dylan said, ‘you bring it all back home’. That’s one of the things that I have always done. I love the Berkshires. I’m from here, I was born and raised here. And, as much as I love traveling, coming home is even sweeter. And, what I’ve brought back here is Café Adam.”

“The smoked salmon that we do is cold smoked salmon. We start with a Scottish salmon, and then we cure it for 18 hours in a salt and spice mixture, rinse it, dry it for another 24 hours, and then we smoke it with local applewood. And, that just is the foundation of our lunch menu. It gives us a lot of credibility at the restaurant as a whole. I’m really interested in things like that. When I go to a restaurant, I want to see something that is crafted, something that’s original, something that someone has given a little bit of themselves to. For me, that gains respect."

“Sylwia is my wife, and she runs the front of the house. And, she is pretty much the general manager of the whole establishment. She does everything. And, she’s from Poland, so she has a whole different background than what I have, so I think we complement each other very well – her being kind of old world and traditional, with amazing standards. She keeps the dining room very organized, very professional. And me being kind of the new world, the American, the young American chef – it’s quite a team.”

“I’ve had many mentors in my life, but working on my own … it’s very interesting. It’s more interesting, I think, sometimes, because you have to discipline yourself. There’s no one to say ‘no, that’s not the way to do it’, or ‘you should be doing this’, or ‘you should be doing that.’ You have to really guide your own hand, and I find it to be very addictive, I love it. And, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

INTERVIEW