Chef Adam Parker of Pine: Bringing The World’s Cuisines To HanoverNov 14, 2023 03:36PM ● By Anne Richter Arnold Photography By Lars Blackmore
An Early Passion for Food
Adam began his culinary journey at eight years old helping his grandmother make wedding cakes. Years later, when he found out that she had donated many of them to people who could not afford to buy a cake, he realized he had to incorporate his grandmother’s legacy of helping others into his own personal philosophy of cooking.
His passion for baking continued and his mother supported this by providing cake decorating classes at age 12. “Mom was amazing, supporting me in every way,” says Adam. “She would even rush to the store in the middle of the night when I’d run out of sugar for frosting. Without her being there, I would not have been able to start the learning process when I was young.”
After studying Culinary Arts in high school, Adam received his professional education at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. There he earned his bachelor’s degree in culinary management as well as a Baking and Pastry certification.
Post graduation, Adam worked at the Sagamore Resort in Lake George in Upstate New York. He worked in all the different areas and learned about a multitude of cooking styles. He then decided to go to Florida to broaden his horizons and experience. His career has taken him from prestigious resorts like the Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida, to the Mountainview Grand in New Hampshire.
“In each location, I learned as much as I could. By knowing how to make and do everything, I can help and inspire others. With my broad knowledge, I am able to understand and oversee all aspects of culinary services and be a leader,” Adam explains.
An Opportunity to Make a Difference
Adam chose the Hanover Inn because it provided him with an opportunity and a place where he could make a difference. He saw it as not only as a position where he could touch more people’s lives and be an inspiration, but an opportunity: to be the best restaurant between New York City and Montreal.
His interview was challenging but also fun, Adam reveals. “I cooked for eight hours and made a whole presentation, not knowing if I would get the job, but enjoying cooking for people who would appreciate it. I took all my favorite recipes and just made them. I just played with food, hung out in the kitchen, and cooked. I made a poached pear salad with prosciutto and fried goat cheese, local greens, and Spanish Marcona almonds which is now the top-selling salad on the menu. I was extremely pleased when the tasting panel members said that this is the food that should be in our restaurant. Others said it was some of the best food they ever had.”
Adam continues, “During that time in the kitchen, I saw that everyone was helpful and nice, a great team to work with. They just needed guidance and a navigator. I realized this was a perfect opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives and provide them with experience that they could take to further their careers.
“Leading the team at Pine, I am working with the most talented group of culinarians I’ve ever worked with. This is such a wonderful place; everyone from housekeeping to the general manager to human resources has been very supportive. I feel that I can help the members of our culinary team and my hope is if they leave when a potential employer sees Pine on their resume, they will know that this person is talented and capable because of their experience here.”
A Unique Culinary Experience
Adam explains his philosophy of cooking was influenced by a chef he met. “I was at Restaurant R’evolution and talked to the chef, John Foss, who is supposed to be the best chef in New Orleans. I asked him, ‘What makes you so good? What’s your why?’ His answer was range—that he’s traveled the world and brought the best of the world home and blended it with his local Cajun cuisine to make something very special. That’s what I am doing here at Pine.
“We don’t want to be an amazing North Country restaurant,” continues Adam. “We have visitors and students from all over the world and they don’t just want a New Hampshire experience, they want an exceptional culinary experience like no other. Our menu is influenced by my philosophy and travels that combine style and foods to create something really special. I have enough range and variety that we can make everyone happy when they dine here.
“It takes five or six recipes to make each dish. Not only are we getting back to our roots of making food, but we are also breaking the mold to explore food at a very high level. Our filet mignon medallions, risotto, and crab cakes are the biggest sellers. I would put them up against any restaurant in the world!”
One of Adam’s bestsellers is the aptly named Brake for Moose: a moose-shaped shortbread cookie with chocolate mousse emblazoned with the Pine logo in chocolate on the plate. His calamari is unique and delicious, made from calamari rings only, smoked bluefish dip, lemon creme fraiche, and Peruvian peppers. For his stellar crab cakes, he uses only jumbo lump crab meat, equivalent to the tenderloin of beef, expensive but the best quality. They are bestsellers and he is told they’re better than the ones in Maryland, the home of crab cakes.
Adam has also completely overhauled the banquet menu and now provides a large range of choices. “We have people who attend banquets or events several times a year and don’t want to see the same menu. I want it to be new and fresh each time someone attends an event here.”
Adam’s philosophy of cooking is simple, he explains. “There are really only two people that put things in your body—doctors and chefs. I tell my staff that we have a huge responsibility: providing delicious and healthy food, with attention to proper nutrition and possible allergens. Whether the food we create is part of a special occasion and celebrations or just a meal out with friends, we want it to be memorable. We are able to touch people’s lives and that’s what answers my why.”
2 East Wheelock Street