Interview With Adam Smith Of Woven At Coworth Park


Since opening earlier this year, Woven at Coworth Park has been Berkshire’s must-visit restaurant. We chat to the chef behind it, Adam Smith

Looking back at your career pre-Woven, which positions do you think have inspired you most?

It’s very hard to give a clear and definitive answer to one key role or position that has inspired me the most. From all of the positions and experiences I have had there were learnings and inspiration. 

From working with John Williams, I was inspired by the classics of haute cuisine, the fundamentals of running a world-class kitchen and being a leader. My time at The Devonshire Arms allowed me to build relationships directly with farmers and suppliers, several of which I still work with today. It gave me the opportunity to source directly, sometimes the most humble of ingredients, but of the most amazing quality. Finally the biggest inspiration has been my role and team at Coworth Park for the last six years, we have all grown together in our own style and in confidence of what we do. 

Woven By Adam Smith Credit James Thompson .jpg
Adam Smith, photo by James Thompson

Is it possible to define your style of cooking?

My style of cooking at Woven is inspired by classic flavours and techniques, but presented in refined, creative, and contemporary ways. I like to showcase the finest produce: fresh seafood, quality butchery, foraged mushrooms, hand-picked herbs, native flowers. I am inspired by what’s around me in the English countryside. 

How long has Woven been in the works?

A simple answer would be around 18 months – that is when we decided to embark on the project. A more romantic answer would be the last 20 years, as I feel Woven is the culmination of my whole career to date!  

Was it a stressful process to launch, or did you enjoy it?

As you can imagine, the whole process of design, concept and then launch of a new restaurant is a roller-coaster of emotions. But I loved it! It was extremely stressful and challenging at times, however I have always found opportunities to learn and experience something new for the first time enjoyable. 

What did you want to offer with the look and feel of Woven?

The interiors have been designed and led by Martin Hulbert, the designer of Coworth Park when the hotel first opened in 2010. The design is theatrical and contemporary yet woven seamlessly into the fabric of the Georgian manor house setting and the surrounding Berkshire countryside. Every detail of the design has been inspired by the natural world, with the fabrics, lighting, artworks, natural materials, and striking colours and textures all coming together to create a lively, luxurious, and interesting space.  

Woven By Adam Smith Credit Mark Bolton
Woven at Coworth Park, photo by Mark Bolton

How special is it to have a restaurant set within the Coworth Park estate?

Coworth Park is a very special place; you will struggle to find a more beautiful property! However, what makes Coworth Park so special is the people within it. I feel extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity and support to open Woven. 

How did you approach the menus?

We have created a dining experience that blends a tasting menu and a la carte menu, so that the guest still has choice, whilst also experiencing the unique culinary journey of the restaurant, and the story that each dish has to tell. We don’t create dishes to fit a concept; it’s about making every moment of the dining experience shine and a lot of thought and care has gone into that.   

Are there dishes that you really love right now for whatever reason?

At the moment I feel our Cornish turbot with salsify, lobster and truffle is just so special. It’s a dish firmly rooted in classical cookery in terms of technique, however the execution has made it 100% relevant, and most importantly, our guests all seem to love it!

What has the reaction been like since launching?

The reaction to the opening has so far been amazing. I feel flattered that we have so many loyal and returning guests who have all loved what we have done with the space and who are excited by the new dining experience. Furthermore, we have seen an influx of new guests who are equally blown away.

Woven By Adam Smith Turbot Dish
Cornish turbot

This interview will appear in the run up to Christmas – anything special planned?

Coworth Park is a really special place at Christmas, with guests enjoying the twinkling lights, chilly walks in the grounds, afternoons by the fire, and of course the festive food and drink. Our festive afternoon tea served in the Drawing Room always has a special kind of magic to it, being accompanied by a local choir singing carols at the weekends. The hotel is also a really exciting place for kids at Christmas, with the chance to write letters to Father Christmas, make treats for reindeer and join a festive treasure hunt. We won’t be serving turkey and Christmas pud in Woven! But I am looking forward to having the restaurant full of people celebrating the season, getting stuck into the food and perhaps popping an extra bottle or two of bubbles. 

Will you have time off over Christmas? If yes, do you also do the cooking at home over the festive period?

I usually work over Christmas then have some time off around 27 December. By this point, I have had it up to my eyeballs with turkey, so it has become a bit of a tradition that I buy a rib of beef for my family Christmas meal. I do tend to still do all the cooking, then just enjoy some time with my children and family around, eating and drinking too much. 

Can you offer our readers some top tips on how to approach Christmas dinner cooking?

My biggest tip for Christmas dinner is to be super organised, so that on the day you can enjoy the cooking and being around loved ones. I will always prepare all the vegetables the day before. I even boil and fluff my roast potatoes then freeze them, then on the day put them frozen straight into the hot duck fat in the oven which gives you the perfect crispy and fluffy roast potato with minimal stress. I like to remove the legs from the turkey and stuff them with the stuffing, this way when you roast the crown separately you can cook it for less time and retain as much moisture as possible.   

How do you see the future of Woven evolving?

We hope that if we keep focusing on our guest experience, we will build on our already fast growing reputation as a gastronomic destination. 


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