NEW VIDEO: "I don't cook for my customers, my customers come here because they want to try it"

Alex South

Alex South



Gareth Ward is the next LAFONT featured chef, he talks to The Staff Canteen about Ynyshir, his dreams, and the flavours that inspire him at the two Michelin-starred restaurant.

Ynyshir has taken the culinary world by storm with Chef Owner Gareth Ward at the centre of it.

Using only the best produce, Gareth ferments, pickles, ages and forages a wide array of rustic dishes, pulling off incredible flavours and presentation in the process.

The unique approach has resulted in nothing but success for him and his team, pushing Ynyshir to the top of their game, winning award after award including two Michelin stars, five AA rosettes and the prestigious title of Britain’s second-best restaurant according to The Good Food Guide 2022.

Open Monday to Friday, Ynyshir is unashamedly proud of the distinctive and intermate ambience they’ve created for guests, who seek to escape the mundane and monotonous routine, and instead long for something special.


Since arriving at Ynyshir, Gareth has turned what was a beautiful traditional hotel in the heart of Wales into focal point of excellence and originality.

Describing his first impressions on the location, Gareth said: “I remember getting to the bottom of the drive and coming through the gates and thinking, I don't care what this job is, I'm having it because I want to live here for a bit. I came in and I was just blown away.”

After working at Ynyshir for three years, Gareth’s business partner who worked at the hotel offered him the opportunity to transform the Welsh chateau into whatever he felt would work, giving him free reign in the process.


“He said to me, 'let's have a chat, I want you to stay, let's have a chat and see what your dream is for Ynyshir.' so this was it, flipping it on its head, turning it into a food focused destination restaurant where people come and spend twelve to twenty-four hours here and just get smashed in by incredible ingredients and flavours,” described Gareth.

Describing what he seeks to offer with Ynyshir, Gareth revealed: “The ultimate goal with Ynyshir is to just make our mark on the industry. I want to put this little piece of Wales on the map for food and I want people to come and see what it is and where it is and come and have fun.”


For Gareth, everything offered to guests on Ynyshir’s menu is cooked from experience by him and his carefully selected kitchen team.

“Our food is just dirty food with the best quality ingredients in the whole world,” he said.

Describing his creations in greater detail, Gareth said: "I love Thai green curry, so we've replicated it in our own thing, in our own way. We're making Thai green curry but with the best ingredients in the world; or char siu pork, when you get char siu pork in a local takeaway restaurant the pork probably wasn't the best quality, we're making char siu pork with Iberico. It's a very, very different experience.”

When Gareth and his team get a spare moment to eat out, the flavours they opt for tend to be Chinese, Japanese, Thai or Indian flavours, which strongly influence and inspire the Ynyshir’s menu.


"I want to eat in my own restaurant, and I think that's very important. I don't cook for anybody else, I don't cook for any guide, I don't cook for my customers, my customers come here because they want to try it and hopefully, they'll absolutely love it but if they don't love it, it's personal preference because they don't love them flavours like I do,” explained Gareth.

His honest approach to food is what makes Ynyshir such an important concept, and one that connects both the restaurant and Gareth together as single entity, distinguishing him from his peers.

He added: "I cook food that I want to eat. I think that's super important, and I think a lot of chefs should look at that and think 'do I want to eat that?'. I think they'll need to have a better experience in their kitchen if they want to eat everything that they cook."


For Gareth and the team at Ynyshir, when dealing with some of the best produce in the world, the ethos should always be less is more.

"The biggest thing I've learned is if you buy in the best ingredients in the world, which we do, just leave them alone as much as you possibly can," explained Gareth.

Commenting on the best ways to treat different produce, he said: “If it’s the A five Wagyu beef you've got to do very little to that because it is already incredible, or if it's beautiful tuna from Japan, just treat it with respect, don't overwork it, just let it do its thing because it is already incredible. Just learn to step away. Keep it simple. Just let the ingredients speak for itself.”


Gareth’s careful approach to food has been the backbone of the thirty courses that have featured in Ynyshir’s menu past and present.

Talking about the importance of understanding each ingredient, Gareth said: “A lot of our ingredients, a lot of the dishes are weighed, so it's so you can actually get through the menu without throwing up all over the floor in the restaurant because you've had so much food, so it is actually quite a skill to get it right.”


One of the biggest ingredients to Gareth and Ynyshir’s success is creating and building strong, honest, and personable relationships with not just his team, but also the suppliers and tradesmen who work with him to achieve his vision.

“Suppliers, builders, wood craftsman, whittlers, furniture makers… without them this place wouldn't be what it is,” he revealed.


For Gareth and the rest of his team it’s these relationships that are essential to Ynyshir’s continuing journey.

Commenting on this, Gareth said: “The suppliers are so important we can't cook food without them. I make sure that every single one of our suppliers in the kitchen I have a brilliant relationship with. I still personally put all of the orders in the kitchen.”

But for Gareth it goes beyond just the suppliers that make up the Ynyshir family.

He added: “I work with people that I love. My builder we have a great relationship, my wood craftsman, the guys that whittle my spoons, we're constantly talking to each other. My partner Sarah Jerath, we've been working with each other for must be six years now, we just know each other like we're family, and she knows exactly what I want, and I know exactly what she produces. So without these relationships in the business, we would never be where we are.”

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Alex South

Alex South

Editor 21st November 2022

NEW VIDEO: "I don't cook for my customers, my customers come here because they want to try it"