Great British Menu 2022 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 2022

Series 17 of the competition starts on February 1st 2022 on BBC Two at 8pm and will air at the same time every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for eight weeks. The Welsh heat will take place on Tuesday 15th, Wednesday 16th and Thursday 17th February 2022.

Nathan is competing against Tom Phillips, Mark Threadgill and Larkin Cen. This is Nathan's second appearance on the show, having taken part for the first time in 2021, only narrowly missing out on a spot at the banquet. 

Before making it to the judges' chamber, the chefs' food is to be judged by veteran chef Angela Hartnett, who competed in the first series of the programme in 2006, then again in 2008 and 2010. 

As per the programme's new format which starts each heat with four chefs (as opposed to three, which was the case until series 15), Mark was eliminated after the fish course. Larkin was the next to go, leaving Tom and Nathan to face judges Tom Kerridge, Nisha Katona and Ed Gamble, as well as guest judge Steffan Rhodri on Thursday, 17th February 2022.

Neck-in-neck until the end, it was Nathan who won over the judges and made it through to represent Wales at the national finals.

Nathan then became the first chef to secure a spot at the banquet with his starter.

How does it feel to win a course to serve at the banquet?

To see it through right to the end, and to get a dish at the banquet is an amazing achievement, and just a lovely way to finish the whole process.

What was your inspiration for the dish, and what made you choose the theme/ingredients?

My dish was inspired by Merlin, the television show. I wanted it to be a mediaeval broth, and with us being in Wales, we've got fantastic lamb and all these wonderful ingredients that lend themselves quite naturally to the dish.

Was it hard to prepare for?

The whole thing's been hard to perfect. The last couple years have been quite tough so it's been a nice escape to do something a bit different. It's a tough competition, with a lot of really good chefs, and in particular I found my heat week to be really strong. All I wanted to do was to do better than I did last year, so my goal was to get through to finals week. Luckily for me, I got the first dish so it eased the pressure for me for the rest of the week. I could just really enjoy it.

How did it compare to last time?

I think the competition has changed quite considerably. Last year I scored really highly from Tommy Banks, the veteran chef, but when it came to the judges table, they didn't get where I was trying to go with the food.  Having someone like Tom Kerridge on the panel, someone who not only has done a lot in the industry but they're still in the industry now has really helped me I think.

What was it like working under the cameras and lights?

I work in quite a methodical way in the way that I set up, so I think you've just got to almost forget that the cameras are there. Enjoy the process first and foremost, and just get stuck into it. I think it helped that I brought my barbecue from home which I cook on in the restaurant all the time, so I just relaxed into it and enjoyed the process. It’s such a unique thing, compared to our day-to-day work, but I really enjoyed it to be honest.

Out of all of your courses, did you feel like your starter was the strongest?

No, I thought another of my dishes would be the strongest!

Biography

Born in Wolverhamption, Nathan moved to Wales with his family when he was young.

He studied catering at Coleg Ceredigion in Cardigan, and worked in professional kitchens in London - including Shakespeare's Globe Theatre - and was briefly a private chef in 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.

Nathan's food style speaks to his experience, with an emphasis on wild and foraged ingredients, often cooked over fire. The chef even makes his own pine products, which made an appearance on his menu last year.

This year, he will pay hommage to BBC documentary series Coast, as well as the fantastical series featuring Colin Morgan, Merlin.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 30th March 2022

Great British Menu 2022 chefs: Nathan Davies, Wales heat