Adam Cole, the executive chef and pitmaster of Culver City’s Maple Block Meat Co., will give a public lecture at the University of Florida as part of SmellTaste2017.
Cole, a native of Boone, North Carolina, has found success in the culinary world despite not being able to smell, a condition called anosmia that he has had since birth.
“I’ve read that smell is like 80 percent of taste and if you have no sense of smell then it’s almost impossible to taste anything,” Close said in an interview with LuckyPeach.com. “From my own experience, that’s not true. I imagine smell and taste are closely linked, but they are not completely dependent upon each other.”
Cole has been working in the restaurant industry since he was 15 years old, when he ran a small ice cream shop with his mother in North Carolina.
After the ice cream shop and a 2-year stint as a dishwasher, Cole got his first cooking job at a local pizza spot in Boone.
After culinary school, a move to Atlanta and 2 years working at the Cherokee Town and Country Club, Cole met a key mentor in his culinary career, renowned chef Michael Voltaggio.
Cole spent the next 8 years working as Voltaggio’s sous chef in esteemed Los Angeles restaurants including The Bazaar by Jose Andres at the SLS Hotel, The Dining Room at the Langham Hotel and various front of the house positions at ink.
For the first 6 years under Voltaggio, Cole was forced to reveal his anosmia due to a failure in the kitchen’s meat packing machine.
“By that time he knew my skill, so it never became an issue of trust,” he said. “The only reason I kept it to myself wasn’t because I doubted myself, I just didn’t want to give anyone a reason to question my ability.”
Cole’s anosmia hasn’t hurt food quality at his barbeque restaurant, where skills such as properly seasoning meat and maintaining a fire are more important that smell.
The lecture will be held Saturday, Feb. 26, at 5 pm in the HPNP Auditorium and is free and open to the public.
For more information on SmellTaste2017, visit SmellTaste.org. A copy of the lecture flyer is available here.