Gareth Ward

The unapologetically meat-obsessed, Michelin-starred Northern giant talks to Fleur Rollet-Manus about epic salt chambers, the first time he tried Welsh Wagyu and a standout Scandi dessert

How has working with Sat Bains influenced your cooking?

After being with Sat for three years, I started to look at ingredients in a completely new way. He totally broke down the walls of my classical background and taught me to create food that tasted completely different from what you’d expect.

Where have you eaten recently that’s wowed you?

Henne Kirkeby Kro in Denmark. It was a tasting menu and really quite classic, but the apple tart with brown sugar ice cream and caramel sauce is arguably the best thing I’ve ever eaten.

Anywhere you haven’t been yet but are dying to try?

Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo. Everyone who goes comes back a fan. I think the whole of the UK’s culinary brigade is gunning for a trip to Japan. In the name of research, of course.

The food scene in Wales is garnering more and more attention. Any recommendations?

Wales is certainly up and coming, and it’s about time. We have such a rich natural larder on our doorstep. What Thomas Hine at Coast and Hywel Griffith at Beach House are doing is worth watching. They both take a lot of care with what ingredients go on their plates.

How do you spend your time off?

We’re fond of a trip or two to Ibiza to let our hair down and recently spent time at Casa Maca, which was a great base. The old town is often where you’ll find us, but we’re partial to a sunset at Café Mambo.

What about in the UK?

A lot of our mini-breaks involve road-tripping around the UK and we’re in Nottingham a lot to see my children. When there, I always try to squeeze in a visit to Alchemilla. You can feel Alex Bond’s passion in every dish.

You like to work with small producers. Any stand out?

The first time I tried Ifor Humphreys’ Welsh Wagyu I nearly cried, it was so good. I knew it would always have a place on the menu. Martyn and Danielle from Cilshafe Isaf Farm near Fishguard supply our ducks. We use British as often as possible.

What’s next for you and the team at Ynyshir?

I want a bigger Saltan salt chamber. We were the first restaurant in the UK to construct one and I want to build a larger one in the outhouses so that guests can peer through a glass window and see what we do to age our meats. It’s something we take real pride in.

We’ve made it to Ynyshir. What can we expect to eat?

Twenty courses. To get people to come to this part of the country, in the middle of nowhere, it has to be special. The kind of things you can expect include raw aged Welsh Wagyu with caviar, Scottish scallops with green strawberry salsa, and Welsh lamb with a mint sauce made from our five-year-old kombucha.

Any tips for brewing our own kombucha?

To stop it going fizzy, we place mesh over it so that the scoby can breathe. That way we don’t have to burp it as often.

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