Great British Menu 2021 chefs: Nathan Davies, Wales heat

The  Staff Canteen

Chef and owner of SY23 in Aberystwyth, Nathan Davies, is one of four chefs representing Wales on Great British Menu 2021.

Series 16 of the competition starts on Wednesday 24th March and will air on BBC Two at 8pm every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for eight weeks. The Wales heat will air on Wednesday 12th, Thursday 13th and Friday 14th April. It will also be available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

Nathan competed against Ali Borer from the Nutbourne; Michelin-starred head chef at The Beach House, Hywel Griffith; and Michelin-starred chef owner of The Olive Tree in Bath, Chris Cleghorn.

As per the programme's new format, Chris Cleghorn was eliminated after the fish course, leaving Ali, Hywel and Nathan to cook their remaining two courses for veteran judge Tommy Banks. Ali failed to recoup enough points to catch up with Hywel and Nathan with his main course and dessert, leaving them both to cook for the judges on the third day of the Wales heat.

Nathan scored lower points than his opponent chef Hywel in the judges chamber, falling short of a place in the national finals.

Nathan moved to Wales from Wolverhampton as a child, studied catering at Coleg Ceredigion in Cardigan, and worked as a chef in London and France before moving back to Wales. He worked for Steven Terry at The Hardwick in Abergavenny and was Gareth Ward's head chef at Ynyshir restaurant for four years before moving to Aberystwyth to open SY23 with business owner Mark Phillips in late 2019.

Full name

Nathan Davies




30 years old

Place of birth / residence

I was born in Wolverhampton but moved to Llangrannog in West Wales at a young age and have always considered Wales home. I now live in Aberystwyth.

Relationship status / children

Married with two boys and a spaniel


5’6” but while at Ynyshir I looked 3’2” stood next to Gareth who’s a giant

Type of chef (restaurant, hotel, development chef, etc.)

I’m a restaurant chef but have spent most of my career at hotels and have also done some private chef work in France

Favourite type of cuisine

My favourite cuisine is a mixture of Basque BBQ and Japanese

Path to becoming a chef

I became a chef after spending many many hours cooking with my nan as a boy, then straight from school I went to college to receive formal training.

Past and present place of work

I now work in a restaurant I created with my business partner Mark called SY23 a little over a year ago. Before that I was Gareth Ward's head chef at Ynyshir for nearly 4 years.

Personal and professional mentors / role models 

I have been very lucky to work with some fantastic chefs but the biggest influence and chef in my life had been my mentor and good friend Gareth Ward at Ynyshir Restaurant and Rooms.

Guilty pleasure dish

A McDonald’s breakfast with the team in the restaurant on a Sunday - double sausage and egg with extra hash browns!

Best / worst thing about being a chef

The best thing about being a cook is the people I have been able to surround myself with and to be able to create and being creative everyday while trying to master our craft. The worst bit about being a cook is having to miss out on things with my boys and wife because I’m working.

FeeEings  stepping onto the GBM set

It was a surreal experience, I grew up watching a show on TV and then I was there cooking, a fantastic and all-round brilliant experience.

Thoughts about the 'British Innovation' theme tshis year

The theme this year was a challenge and a little strange to be creating dishes to a theme as it’s not what I have done before, but I enjoyed it and researching inspiration for the dishes was a great learning experience

Plans for the future

I now plan on concentrating on our fine dinning restaurant and outdoor dinning space this year as it’s still early days for us and we have a long way to go!



For his starter, Nathan took the brief to a personal level by linking it to the UK's first female forestry bachelor, Mary Sutherland, and his own hobby of tree surgery. 

'Nuts About Trees' featured a chicken liver parfait mousse make with HungarianTokaji wine, served with roasted chicken fat; coal-cooked pine nuts; fire roasted hazelnuts and chicken skin; wood sorrel; pine vinegar; grated candied hazelnuts and served in a pine ember cloche. 

Tommy gave the dish a 9/10 score.

Fish course

Nathan's fish course, 'Storm in the teacup and sunny on the side,' was inspired by the fire-cooking traditions of San Sebastian, and linked to the brief in ode of Welsh meteorologist Sir David Brunt.

It comprised rendered, barbecued turbot glazed in koji soy, glucose and seaweed, served with home cultured butter sea vegetables; puffed rice; mussels and cockles from his local estuary; dill oil and crispy turbot skin. Tommy called the dish 'banquet-worthy' and gave it a 10/10 score. 

Main course

Founder of the world's first mail order service Sir Pryce Pryce-Jones was the inspiration behind Nathan's main course, 'Mail Order,' a barbecued lamb loin and brined, pressure-cooked and glazed ribs served with a black garlic and dashi ketchup; beer-cooked shallots with wild garlic stems, fried rice, wild garlic oil and a lamb fat dressing. Recommending that he make some minor adjustments to the portion size and accompaniements, Tommy gave it a score of 8/10.


Inspired by the same figure as Hywel's starter, Nathan's main course was a tribute to Welsh astronomer Isaac Roberts, the first person to photograph the Andromeda Galaxy. 

A dairy-free, silken tofu and white chocolate mousse was made to replicate the shape of moon rocks, accompanied by raspberry sorbet, ketchup and syrup, pickled elderflower and topped with tempered white chocolate with a transfer of the spiral galaxy on it.

Tommy was impressed by all aspects of Nathan's dessert and gave it a 10/10.


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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 17th April 2021

Great British Menu 2021 chefs: Nathan Davies, Wales heat