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Ynyshir

Ynyshir

The Chef

Gareth Ward

It takes most people a long time to get to Ynyshir, Gareth Ward’s Michelin-starred restaurant-with-rooms in the remote Welsh countryside, but anyone who has eaten his multi-layered tasting menus will tell you it’s more than worth the effort. Regularly cited as the most exciting chef cooking in the UK today, he spends his time preserving seasonal ingredients and creating punchy Japanese-inspired sauces and dressings to act as perfect accompaniments to meat (which he dry-ages for up to 300 days himself). The result is a menu that is unlike anything else in the world, full of rich flavours that somehow marry together Japanese techniques and flavours with the wild ingredients of the Welsh countryside.

Growing up in County Durham, Gareth didn’t really care about food until he went into the kitchen. ‘I was a bit of a dropout to be honest, and I only went into the kitchen because my uncle told me I’d always have a job doing it,’ he explains. ‘I was a very picky eater, but when I got my first job at a place called the Seven Stars in Shincliffe, I couldn’t get enough of it.’

The Seven Stars served the standard pub fare, and while Gareth loved discovering new ingredients and the discipline of the kitchen, it wasn’t until a chef joined the team and told him to find somewhere where he could hone his natural talent for cooking that he had even heard of Michelin-starred cooking. ‘A guy called Alan O’Kane gave me the Good Food Guide and told me to pick some places I liked the look of, so he could help me secure an interview. My first choice was Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea, but when I went down there for a trial it was just too much for me; I wasn’t ready. So instead I ended up at Hambleton Hall in Rutland, working under Aaron Patterson.’