Returning to Wales, Sommerin worked up the ladder at The Crown at Whitebrook, where he was Head Chef from 2003 to 2013; he also added The Crown at Celtic Manor to his portfolio during that time. He left the Crown at Whitebrook in 2013 and is due to open a new restaurant in Penarth in early 2014.
Sommerin impressed the judges of Great British Menu 2009. The Crown at Whitebrook has had a Michelin star to its name for five years running, the Good Food Guide lists it among its top UK restaurants, and the Observer named Sommerin a Chef to Watch in 2008.
Keeping a safe distance from the well-trodden clichés of Welsh cuisine is imperative for Sommerin, who has said of his menus, 'I wanted to focus on the more unusual products, to show there’s more to Wales'. His offerings attest to Sommerin's originality - Matthew Fort commented, 'Smoked eel and pig's trotter? Langoustines, fennel and white chocolate? There is clearly a distinctive palate at work here'.
His dishes tend to marry three or four distinct flavours in imaginative combinations. Diners at his restaurants can take advantage of a tasting menu drawing UK ingredients, global influences and techniques from forward-thinking culinary innovators.
James Sommerin has contributed recipes to the first of the Great British Chefs app. His menus on the app include a seared cod with asparagus, crab beignets and samphire and the most playful - a bubblegum panna cotta.