Michigan’s award-winning Reserve Wine & Food announced Josh Adams as its new executive chef, effective September 8. The James Beard Award semifinalist hails from Peoria, Illinois, where he owned and operated June Restaurant for five years.
“My vision for June was to have a restaurant that would serve a seasonal menu, based off the bounty of the local farms,” Chef Adams says. “I’m looking forward to bringing that concept back to Reserve. With being so close to area farms and farm markets, it affords me an opportunity to have an even closer relationship with our producers and the ability to serve our customers the freshest, local ingredients in a creative and flavorful way.”
Chef Adams started his culinary education early. At the age of 10, his mother enrolled him in his first cooking class and from then on, the kitchen beckoned. Adams cooked throughout his childhood with his mom and grandmother, who encouraged his creativity and curiosity. His mother—a poet and amateur photographer, and father—a successful businessman, nurtured his innovative spirit and instilled a strong work ethic.
Adams recalls a pivotal turning point in his career. “I went to Charlie Trotter’s to celebrate my birthday and had the luxury of dining at the chef’s table in the kitchen. Witnessing a professional kitchen operate at such a high level—so seamlessly—changed my perspective on what it meant to be a chef, forever.”
Before leaving, he spoke with chef de cuisine Matthias Merges. Recognizing the potential in Adams, Merges offered him an internship position, which Adams accepted.
Committed to a career as a chef, Adams attended both the French Culinary Institute as well as Illinois Central College's culinary arts program. He supplemented his scholastic studies with several internships [Alinea, Revolver] and outfitted his home kitchen to professional grade to further his knowledge.
In 2007, Adams worked at Vie restaurant in suburban Chicago under Chef Paul Virant, a chef known for his farm-fresh approach. Along with Chef Virant and Chef Trotter, Adams recognizes Heston Blumenthal, Pierre Gagnaire, Alice Waters, and Ferran Adria as major influencers in his career.
These mentors helped Adams to shape his style, one that is a unique blend of farm-direct and molecular gastronomy. Applying progressive techniques to pristine ingredients, Adams seeks to preserve and accentuate the natural properties of the ingredients through precision cooking.
“With the development of each dish, I take into consideration the aroma, taste, texture, temperature, color, shape, and arrangement to bring about the best possible result for the customer," he says.
With his passion for seasonal and locally grown products firmly rooted, Adams left Chicago in the spring of 2008, returning to his hometown—an area surrounded mostly by farms—to open his progressive, farm-direct June Restaurant.
In addition to being named a James Beard: Rising Star Semifinalist in 2010 and Best Chef: Great Lakes Region Semifinalist in 2012, Chef Adams was awarded Food & Wine Magazine’s 2013 “People’s Choice Best New Chef-Great Lakes Region,” was among Reuters’ “World Chefs,” and was one of Mother Nature Network’s “40 Chefs Under 40.”
June Restaurant was recognized in 2009 by the Wall Street Journal as a “Best New Restaurant-Heartland Region,” ManMade.com’s 2010 “10 Best Restaurants-Midwest,” Bon Appetit Magazine’s “Top 10 New Romantic Getaways,” NBC Chicago’s “Hottest New Restaurant in Peoria,” Travel + Leisure’s “50 Best New Restaurants,” Midwest Living’s “New Spots to Eat, Play and Stay” and Opinionated About Dining’s 2013 “Top 100 U.S. Restaurants.”