Chef of the Week: Justin Llewellyn, Executive Chef at Parkgate Hotel in Cardiff
How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
We opened the hotel and the Sorting Room Restaurant in October 2022. The hotel is a part of the Celtic Manor Resort Collection. Our restaurant is to be somewhere you can completely relax and enjoy some fantastic food with good company.
Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I have been in catering all my life my parents run a hotel B&B and I use to cook breakfast for the guests from early age. I studied at Colchester Avenue, Cardiff for 3 years to develop my skills further.
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
As a chef every day is different you’re always learning. You have the opportunity to create new dishes, experiment with unique and quality ingredients. Culinary arts is an amazing field for individuals who want to showcase their creativity through food.
Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Salt, butter and garlic.
Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
Thermomix – We use this piece of equipment every day, it is like having a second chef in the kitchen, it’s very versatile.
What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Although arguably the biggest food news of the past year was the rising cost of food, which will no doubt continue to have an impact on 2023. There have also been advances in plant-based products, reducing food waste, and functional food and drink that may give everyone something to look forward to in the new year.
What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Over complicated food with too many ingredients.
What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Spring time with lamb and spring vegetables, coming out of winter into spring is a wonderful time of the year.
Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
My beef wellington is my signature dish it has been on the menu since we opened the restaurant.
How do you come up with new dishes?
My menu is ingredient driven when writing our à la carte menu looking at seasonal British produce. We aim to work with as many local producers and suppliers as possible, exceptional products are key. We keep the menu concise to ensure that everything is fresh and made from scratch.
Tell us three chefs you admire.
Marco Pierre White, the youngest chef to have won 3 Michelin stars. Michel and Albert Roux – The Roux brothers opened Le Gavroche in 1967 and awarded 3 Michelin stars.
Over the last 40 years, Britain’s culinary scene has transformed. The 21st century sees a nation proud of its acclaimed chefs; there are successful restaurants the length of the country, with hundreds of them boasting awards and accolades. Yet, when Michel and Albert Roux established the Roux Scholarship in 1983, there were just 33 Michelin-starred restaurants in the Michelin Guide in Great Britain and Ireland.
What is your favourite cookbook?
White Heat by Marco Pierre White.
Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
- Gareth Ward, he won 2 Michelin stars in 2022.
- Nathan Davies at SY23.
- Adam Handling at the Michelin star Frog Restaurant and Ugly Butterfly in Cornwall.
What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
In 2022, Ynyshir was awarded 2 Michelin stars, the first restaurant in Wales to achieve this. In June 2022 Ynyshir was placed as number 1 in the UK at the National Restaurant Awards.