What is your first food memory?
As with any Welsh person worth their salt, one of my first food memories is baking welsh cakes with my Nain (grandmother) in Denbigh. Like many, I also started out making cornflake crispy cakes, and secretly I still love them!
What did you cook during your childhood?
It was a trip to a local bakery with my primary school when I was nine that really fired my enthusiasm for baking. When I took home bread that I had made and then saw my Mum and Dad enjoying it, it made me realise how good it feels to make food for people.
How did your cooking training begin and how/where did you train – and how was it for you?
My first cooking job was at the same local bakery as a Saturday job and I loved being part of a team and learning alongside others. I also signed up for training Coleg Llandrillo for NVQ Level 2 & 3 Professional Cookery.
What or who has been your food inspiration?
I was truly inspired by the Roux brothers and Marco Pierre White – all of whom I have been lucky enough to work for during my career. It is through watching and working alongside others that you really learn, which is why I am so pleased now to work with Compass Cymru’s apprentices. If I can inspire just one, as I was inspired, then I will have done my job well.
How long have you been working with Compass Cymru and why did you join the business?
I have been with the business now for ten years and I joined to broaden my horizons and to keep learning new skills. Working away from my own restaurant environment has taught me so much about a different side of the hospitality industry.
What is it about Compass Cymru that fits with your own ethos/ approach to cooking/training?
The business invests in its people, ingredients and skill sets, which is so inspiring. They also work with many of the best food producers in Wales, as I do in my own business.
Who do you most enjoy cooking with?
That is an easy one to answer as it will always be my team. I am a true team player and it is working and cooking alongside others that I find inspiring and rewarding.
What are your favourite recipes and foods?
I love cooking with scallops, but my favourite recipe would have to be slow-cooked shoulder of Welsh lamb.
What is your advice to young people who want a career in Welsh hospitality?
Take your time, it’s not a race. Find the right setting for you and make sure it is somewhere you are able to keep developing your skills.
Why are apprenticeships important?
Apprenticeships are really important because they give people the chance to build their skills within a structured learning setting, as well as in the environment that is right for them.
Have you any ambitions that you still want to fulfil?
Yes – always! I am always looking to improve my restaurants wherever I can. From the Kitchen to the Front of House, it’s always good to keep up with the times and modern techniques.
Who are your favourite/inspirational Welsh food producers?
Many Welsh Lamb producers have so much knowledge of the animal and the meat. And of course, the meat is just the best!
Why do you love Wales and its food?
Wales is my home – the land of my fathers! And in terms of ingredients, I think it offers one of the finest larders in the world – who wouldn’t want to cook with it?