Interviews

Gareth Ward, Ynyshir

We talk to the head chef at Top 50 restaurant Ynyshir in West Wales.

What inspired you to become a chef?

I was a bit of a tearaway at school and left not knowing what to do, except join the army or be a fireman. My Uncle Trevor said, 'Why don't you become a chef, as everyone needs to eat'. I went to the job centre and got a job in a pub, and just knew the kitchen was where I should be.

At the end of a long day, what do you like to cook?

Crumpets with marmite and scrambled eggs, or Heinz tomato soup.

What's your favourite junk food?

Pot Noodles.

What food could you not live without and why?

Miso, maple and soy. These are the basis of almost every dish we cook in the restaurant.

What is the vital ingredient for a successful kitchen?

Love!

What’s your favourite dish on your menu, and why?

I love every dish, as they only make the menu if we believe that they are incredible. But, if I had to pick some it would be tiramisu, the ‘Not French onion soup’ or mackerel sweet and sour as they have been on my menus since day one and never change. In my eyes, they are perfect.

If you could cook for anyone (past or present) who would it be, and what would you cook for them?

My mum. She absolutely loved garlic and would put it on everything so I would cook something with wild garlic, as I don't think she ever tried it and I think she would have absolutely loved it.

What is the strangest request you have had from a diner?

A guest once asked me for a tub of liquid nitrogen so that he could put his tennis ball in it to show his son. I had to say no.

Which chef do you most admire at the moment and why?

Alex Bond, who used to work for Sat Bains and who is opening his own place in Nottingham. His passion, commitment, determination and drive to create his own restaurant is like nothing I have seen before. He is a legend and I love him like a brother.

Tell us something about yourself that will surprise your diners

Although I have daffodils on my arm and my name is Gareth, I am not actually Welsh.

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