Kray Treadwell Nathan Davies: There’s never been a point where I thought I don’t want to be chef

Alex South

Alex South


Kray Treadwell and Nathan Davies discuss why sea urchin is overrated, imposter syndrome and the amazing feedback Nathan got for wearing his hearing aid on Great British Menu.

In this week’s episode of Grilled by The Staff Canteen head editor Cara Houchen was joined by co-host Kray Treadwell, Chef Owner of 670 Grams, and their guest Nathan Davies, chef patron of Michelin-starred, SY23 in Wales.

During the episode, the pair discussed which famous dead personality they’d bring back to life and the last lies they’ve told.


Born in Wolverhampton, 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.

Explaining how he started off as a chef, unlike many of his colleagues within the industry, Nathan wanted to be a chef from a young age.

“There’s never been a point where I thought I don’t want to be chef. Even when you’re a six-year-old and you wanted to be an astronaut and shit, I never wanted to be that I always wanted to be a chef,” he said.

Discussing what inspired him to become a chef, Nathan revealed: “It was my nan that got me into it, so my dad’s mum and her parents who were Sicilian, so cooking was really embedded in that side of the family’s brining up. She used to be an amazing baker. She used bake cakes all the time and do lots of preserves. There weren’t loads of money about, so we used to do loads of preserves, loads of pickles, jams, chutneys, and we did that from a tiny age.”

As well as his nan, Nathan was also inspired by the up-and-coming chefs of the time such as Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, and Marco Pierre White.

“Jamie Oliver was massive at the time when I was 12 or 13. It was him, Gordon… when everybody started to become big names and hospitality was really booming, I used to be given cooking books for Christmas so started collecting them like a real geek,” explained Nathan.

After finding his feet in the industry, Nathan 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 Cardiganshire to open SY23 with business owner Mark Phillips in late 2019.

The restaurant was consecutively awarded a star in the Michelin Guide for Great Britain and Ireland 2022, as well as the special award for 'Opening of the Year 2022'.

Talking about his time at Ynyshir and working for Gareth, comparing the four years at Ynyshir to Marco Pierre White’s infamous Harvey’s, Nathan said: “If I was recommending anyone anywhere to work I would say go fucking work for him because I honestly feel that was my Harvey’s when I was there.”

When asked what three restaurants he would like to visit, Nathan said he would like to visit Nathan Outlaw’s New Road, Paul Ainsworth at Number 6 and Inver.


Nathan’s SY23 is located slap bang in the middle of the Welsh seaside town of Aberystwyth, on the beautiful west coast of Wales.

The location for Nathan is important.

After leaving London, disillusioned by the pace and the city life, Nathan vowed to return to the countryside to reconnect with his roots, before opening SY23 some years later.

Describing SY23’s location Nathan revealed: “The special part about this part of the world is you have really nice hills, you get a quite mountainous region, and then it drops straight into the sea, so you get the best of both worlds.”

2022 has seen Nathan on the receiving end of widespread support and success with SY23 winning its first Michelin star in early 2022.

Talking about the recent success of the restaurant Nathan said: “The star has been the highlight to be quite honest because it was a bit unexpected and this year, I have suffered from imposter syndrome. Everywhere we go, every time something comes through I’m like ‘why are they inviting me? Why are they inviting us?’ it doesn’t feel real because everything has come so fast.”

He added: “There’s been a lot highlights, it just doesn’t feel real to be honest, I think we’ll get to the end of the year and assess where we are after that.”

Expanding on the imposter syndrome lingering around him, Nathan described: “It doesn’t feel real. I still feel like a sixteen-year-old in the kitchen, learning bits and bobs, and just getting to grips with it all. Surreal.”


In November, Nathan released his debut novel ‘On Fire’ detailing his experiences cooking over wood, charcoal and on BBQ grills that he makes himself.

Focusing on his unique style of cooking, Nathan showcases the remarkable produce of his native West Wales throughout the book.

Describing what it felt like to set eyes on the completed book, Nathan said: “It was a bit surreal. When I grew up when I was a kid, I collected cookbooks and thought ‘it would be nice to do a book’ but when it happens, you’re like ‘fuck I’ve just done a book’.”

He added: “It’s a bit of an emotional one really because people are actually interested in what we have to say and when you get in the physical copy and you’re signing your first physical copy like ‘this is mental that people have bought this, and I’ve made this’.”

Explaining what encouraged him to write the book, Nathan said: “It came round quite quickly when I spoke to the guys about making the book. I feel like this year we kind of had to make one, with the success we’ve had of being in the eye of the public with certain things and I just thought we’d be stupid not too.”

He added: “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I think if there was ever to be any interest in buying something we’ve made it would have been this year.”

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Alex South

Alex South

Editor 30th November 2022

Kray Treadwell Nathan Davies: There’s never been a point where I thought I don’t want to be chef