Chef Nathaniel Adam is entering another cooking competition – this time pitting his culinary skills against other chefs from all over the U.S. and Canada.
Adam, the executive sous chef at Boothbay Harbor Country Club, will be competing against about 10 other chefs in the first ever International Oyster Chef or the Year event at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 14 at Boothbay Harbor Oceanside Golf Resort.
Last September, Adam took the Judges’ Choice Award at the annual Claw Down lobster bite competition, held at Newagen Seaside Inn on Southport, and followed that win the next month when he was crowned the 2017 Maine Lobster Chef of the Year, Judge’s Choice, at the competition in Portland.
Food Network Magazine’s vice president of digital culinary content Michelle Buffardi, who will cover the oyster celebration, is one of the judges for next month’s competition.
Adam said he feels confident he’ll at least place, but he’s aware he’ll be up against some pretty tough competition. “I’ll be competing against some top notch chefs who have been in the game for longer than I’ve been alive.” He realizes as he is only 23, that’s not saying a whole lot.
Adam said his oyster dish will be prepared with Barb Scully’s Boothbay Select Oysters. And though he admits to preferring a cooked oyster, he’ll be serving them raw. One thing you can bet on – they’ll be fresh. Scully’s oyster farm is about a 10-minute drive from the country club.
“Barb’s oysters are briny and delicious,” Adam said. He’s working on perfecting his dish now. Right now, two are in the running. “I’m still tweaking them, perfecting them, and trying to come up with the best one.”
He said the final dish will incorporate multiple ingredients, but none of them will hide the most important taste – the oyster. “I’m all about simple cuisine. I’ll only use ingredients that elevate the components, rather than worrying about colors and design.”
“I’m a true believer in only giving a dish what it needs – simple, elegant flavors that match and enhance.”
He declined to share what they are. “Top secret,” he said.
Adam said he’s not nervous about the competition. “I got my wings. It’s anybody’s game really. It’s all about whoever executes it the best.” But he admitted he’ll be at least a little nervous on the night of the competition. “If you’re not nervous, then you’re not really into it enough. I get nervous every day before work. Every day is a new day, and I face new challenges. I’m confident, but I think it’s good to be nervous. It shows that you care.”
The event will be one of several from June 14 to June 16 in the first Damariscotta Oyster Celebration.
Adam will be the only one from the Boothbay-Damariscotta region.
Born in Detroit and raised in Bonita Springs, Florida, he learned his trade from hands-on experience and books, never having received formal training. He started cooking when he was very young, to help his single mother and three brothers. Since then, most of his experience has been in country club kitchens.
On a more personal note, Adam and his girlfriend, Megan Conway, who also works at the country club, got engaged this past winter, while they were vacationing in Leon, France. If you see him at the competition, congratulate him. You may get to congratulate him twice that night.