Chef’s Table talk with Chef James Sommerin
James started his culinary career at the age of 12 working on a Saturday morning in an Italian restaurant in Newport, Chez Chiovanni, after leaving school he started his first full time cooking position at the Cwrt Bleddyn Hotel near Usk.
It was from there, at the age of 16, that he decided to move to Scotland and worked at Farleyer House Hotel under the guidance of Head Chef Richard Lyth, it was whilst being taught by Richard that he gained the understanding of seasonality, quality and the essence of flavour. Whilst in Scotland he cooked at the dinner to celebrate the opening of the Scottish Parliament and was also shortlisted as Young Scottish Chef of the Year. after a few years working in Scotland, he met future wife Louise and after marrying and having their first daughter James decided to move his family returning to his home country- Wales.
Back in Wales in August 2000 he started at the Crown at Whitebrook as Sous Chef and became Head Chef in late 2003, four years later obtained his first Michelin Star, an achievement he is rightly hugely proud of. He retained the coveted Michelin star until 2013 when the “Crown” closed its doors. Recently reopened under new ownership as The Whitebrook
2014 saw James and Louise open Restaurant James Sommerin in Penarth. James and wife Louise were determined to make the restaurant with rooms a success and are rightfully very proud of what they and their team have achieved. A Michelin star in 2016, AA Restaurant of the Year – Wales 2016-2017, 4 AA rosettes, Restaurant of the year 2016 for Wales at the Food Awards Wales and Number 34 in the Good Food Guide for 2017, also achieving 5 stars for rooms with the AA and Visit Wales.
” We pride ourselves on being a family run business, with myself heading up the kitchen, Louise front of house and our 3 girls never far away “
Chef’s Table Asked:
Q: What would be your last dish (to eat) “the death row question”
A: My late grandmother has always been my inspiration, cooking with her on the weekend gave me my love and passion for cooking and I will always be eternally grateful. So I would have to say my late grans beef brisket, gravy & veg
Q: Have you ever been presented with a dish/ingredient that you just could not eat and where was that?
A: Durian Fruit – tried it in Singapore in 2012. It tasted horrendous, I can’t even put it into words.
Q: If there were a “Fantasy League” of Chefs, who would make up your perfect brigade?
A: Richard Lyth, Michele Roux Snr, Grant Achatz, Alex Stupak, Brett Graham & Eric Frechon
Q: What’re the most overused words on restaurant menus’ today
A: where can I start – Textures of, deconstructed & foraged!
Q: Having worked and trained in Scotland what food preparation or styles of cooking did you learn then that you still utilise today. What was on the menu for the opening of Parliament dinner?
A – oh gosh, butchery.
The menu hmmm, I’m sorry I can’t remember back that far it must be a sign of my age now.
Q: What is your favourite dish on the current menu/s in which you use ingredients or produce from your most local supplier?
A: Old Cogan Farm Penarth where we get our Welsh Lamb which we serve with Broad Beans and Turnip.
Q: If for one night you could be invited to cook alongside any Chef past or present who would that be and why?
C – That’s a tough one, I couldn’t narrow it down to 1 person.
My Favourite Tables – Two restaurants I have visited and why?
Restaurant 1 – The Greenhouse in Mayfair – fantastic cooking, every time we go (and we’ve been a few) staff are all very friendly.
Restaurant 2 – Geranium in Copenhagen, cooking on another level
|Address:||Restaurant James Sommerin|
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