Lower Sixth pupil had the chance to interview high-profile chef Bryn Williams as part of her work experience with the school's marketing department, where she is getting a crash course in journalism from Communications Assistant Dean Jones.
Here is what they spoke about:
Bryn Williams is a chef, owning two restaurants ‘Bryn at Porth Eirias’ and ‘Odette's’ in London.
As well as working in both his restaurants, he has found television fame by cooking for the Queen on her 80th birthday celebrations as part of the programme the Great British Menu.
From this he has written several cookery books and had his own cookery programme ‘Cegin Bryn’ on S4C in addition to appearing in episodes of Saturday Kitchen on BBC One.
Was the transition from working in a restaurant to being a TV chef a difficult one?
“When you first start on the telly, people think you’ve sprung out of nowhere, but there are years of hard work before that which nobody sees. The more difficult change, I think, is going from chef to restaurant owner. I couldn’t have done that without all the staff in the restaurants”
What made you come back to North Wales and open restaurant after having opened one in a massive city like London?
“Originally I was looking for a pub, people would always ask me when I was going to open a place whenever I came home.
“North Wales is a great location with great views and transport links that attract people from Anglesey and Chester.”
He spent a while looking for a premises with his business partner and was eventually informed by the council of a location on the seafront in Colwyn Bay. He loved its views of the beach and the Little Orme.
From speaking with him, there seemed to be a sense of ‘coming home’ when he decided to open a restaurant in North Wales, he is clearly passionate about Wales and the food it can offer, saying Britain had “one of the best pantries in the world”.
How do you divide your time between Porth Eirias and Odette's in London?
“When the restaurant first opened I came back for 2-3 days every week, now I come back every three weeks for 2-3 days.
“I trust the team to do a good job and don’t want to stand on their toes.”
Do you think the Colwyn Bay team feel pressured when you return and cook with them?
He recalled when he was a younger chef just starting out that he “wanted to dress smartly and do good job whenever the owners of the restaurant were there” but is keen to make the kitchen in Colwyn Bay relaxed when he is around.
You own two restaurants now. Would you say you had a favourite?
“No. they are like children, I love them both equally and they have different styles and food so you can’t really compare them” if only my mother had the same view.
Famously, you like to use local ingredients in both your restaurants, why do you value that so much?
“My main concern is traceability.”
He likes to know the farmers and know exactly what has happened to the animal or fruit and vegetables that he has in the kitchen.
“Having local food gives you confidence in the ingredients and guarantees their freshness and quality – you know that the fish were only caught yesterday and you have them in the kitchen when they are only a day old.
“Sourcing food locally also helps the local economy, I could buy lamb from France, it would probably be cheaper but it is not helping our economy.”
Having local ingredients is important to you, do you think your customers notice or value the local ingredients as well?
“They like to know that their ingredients are local because they know they are getting higher quality food.
“When they see fresh fruit and vegetables coming into the restaurant, they can smell it, that’s the problem with supermarkets, none of the fruit or vegetables have a smell.”
He explains that eating local produce makes the customers feel more involved with the food and it comforts them to know that it is Welsh food.
When people eat at either of your restaurants, what is the one thing that you want them to take away from it?
“Happiness. Eating in restaurants is far more about the experience than the food itself. If the service is good and they like the surroundings and atmosphere, they’ll have a good time.
“That’s why front of house staff have a much harder job than the chefs, because they are the faces of the restaurant and are in direct contact with the public. If it is a bad evening in the kitchen, you can swear and throw pots around and no one will notice.”
Outside of the restaurants, when you’re cooking at home, what are the three things you always have in your cupboard?
“Pasta, hummus and good French bread like a baguette. I ate these things when I first started (being a chef) and I was poor, the bread on offer in supermarkets has definitely improved in that time.”
We then began a discussion about the rise of artisan foods, especially bread and that the food market has come full circle form the original good stuff, to nasty stuff in packets back to good quality produce.
“Everything that’s good will come back.
“Supermarkets are too big now to ever go away but that they will gradually source better food”.
He also believes that every supermarket should have an aisle dedicated to local food from local farmers and butchers.