Andy Waters

Andy Waters

Andy Waters has been serving his classically-inflected British comfort food in the Midlands of his birth for nearly twenty years. Treating superior ingredients with a light touch, his accessible menus continue to satisfy and delight in equal measure.

The family bookshelves bore classic cookbooks by legends such as Robert Carrier – the chef whose books launched a million dinner parties – and Andy Waters was raised on Carrier’s delicious stews and casseroles, that his mum made from rough cuts of meat. Dreaming of becoming a chef from an early age, he too turned his hand to Carrier’s creations. In charge of the kitchen when his aunt and her husband came round for dinner, he produced tournedos Rossini for his family – although he admits to not really knowing where beef came from at the time. He told us: ‘They all thought it was fantastic, but they would say that because I was twelve.’

An education at Halesowen Food College followed – one of the few options for students who were not academically gifted in the 1980s. He told us: ‘That’s the reason I got into cooking, because I was rubbish at school. I wasn’t interested. I was okay, an average kid, but it was a time when if you couldn’t do anything else, you went into catering.’

After college, Andy Waters travelled to Lyon, France, for a stint working with nouvelle-cuisine pioneer and French food icon, Paul Bocuse. Many years later, he still cites Bocuse as the best chef he has ever worked with. He told us: ‘I think it’s just his stature in the kitchen, his discipline in the kitchen, and his actual schooling that he does throughout the world to inspire … He’s like your father, your college teacher and employer all in one go.’

His first real job was at a restaurant in Bournemouth, working alongside Jean-Christophe Novelli, who was heading the pastry section. He then went on to work at The Plough and Harrow in Edgbaston, followed by several years working at Simpsons in Birmingham, the Michelin-starred restaurant headed by Andreas Antona. In 2001 he took up the head chef position at The Bay Tree in Edgbaston, to see if he had what it takes to run his own restaurant. Spurred on by his success, he opened Edmunds in Henley in Arden in 2002, with the support of his family.

Cornish crab and prawns with harissa, roast breast of Gressingham duck with damson-onion confit and port gravy, and a superlative deep-fried banana with peanut butter ice cream and almond biscuits. The Guardian at the time said of the food: ‘It aspires to pleasure, not wonder, and it delivers that with aplomb. It concentrates on letting high-class raw materials speak their piece without fancy business getting in the way.’ After just six months, the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star, which it held for the next four years, and was named Restaurant of the Year in the Harden’s guide. The restaurant moved to Brindley Place in Birmingham in 2008, with Andy Waters continuing to head the kitchen, and was awarded Best Restaurant in the Midlands in the 2012 Good Food Guide.

He left in 2012 for his next venture, The Queens in Belbroughton, set in a beautiful village on the outskirts of Stourbridge near Birmingham. Andy Waters has now returned to his roots, moving away from forays into molecular gastronomy and back to the classically executed British comfort food of his training. This sixteenth century pub, which he took over in partnership with business partner Jim Dricoll, offered dishes such as Roasted guinea fowl with beetroot, ginger and thyme and Gigot of monkfish with tomato and pepper sauce, and to finish, an elegant Lemon soufflé with lime sorbet or a gently nostalgic Black Forest gâteau. Only a little more than a year after opening, they were awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand in the 2014 Guide. The Queens closed its doors in 2019.

Buoyed by the success of The Queens, in 2013 they opened a second restaurant, Waters on the Square in Edgbaston, just two doors down from his old workplace The Bay Tree. A relaxed, modern British bistro, Andy cooked classical cuisine with his own creative touches. Describing the appeal of the food at this venue, one food guide said: ‘The menu emphasises superior ingredients, showcasing imaginative cooking of the highest standard and at very good value.’

Andy closed Waters on The Square to open next venture – Waters Restaurant – in November 2015 at Resorts World Birmingham, serving diners British classics with a twist in a stylish and comfortable setting. The chef parted ways with Resorts World in 2019 citing creative differences, and is currently taking a break before embarking on the next chapter in his career.