Meet the chef: John Williams at National Trust Bodysgallen Hall in Wales
Having spent four years at Bodysgallen Hall in North Wales, John Williams knew his way around the hotel’s kitchen when he returned in April 2015 to the award-winning hotel as head chef.
During his time at Bodysgallen Hall, a restored National Trust-owned 17th century house sitting in 200 acres of land with views across to Snowdonia and Conwy Castle, John and his team have achieved and maintained the accolade of 3 AA Rosettes, and obtained Bodysgallen’s highest rating to date in the Good Food Guide.
John prepares Welsh cuisine with much of the produce picked from the local vegetable gardens within the hotel’s grounds. Throughout the year, John and his team run several master class demonstrations with a different culinary theme each season.
We spoke to John about his culinary background, why he’s returned to Bodysgallen Hall, the inspiration behind his menus and how he gets the very best out of his talented team.
Tell us how your culinary career started?
I started working for my father in a Hotel in South Wales.
You were previously at Bodysgallen Hall and returned. Tell us about working here and securing a 3 AA Rosette award shortly after your return.
It was great to return after several years away and after only 11 days back we were inspected by the AA and regained the third rosette, quite a special achievement for myself and the team.
You have access to 200 acres of gardens and parkland including kitchen gardens. Tell us about some of the produce you grow and use often in dishes?
Mainly, throughout the summer months we have an abundance of soft fruits and young vegetables which we use in our dishes to add an extra provenance to our food. We also have a herb garden that supplies us all year round.
Wales has grown considerably over the last few years as a foodie destination. Why do you think that is?
There is a very big home produced food culture in Wales that catches peoples imagination.
What is your favourite restaurant in the UK and why?
Too many to mention, it depends on the mood like most people!
Where on your travels has inspired you and why?
I was in New York in January and that has a massive diversity of cultures and restaurants.
Being a National Trust hotel and property, how do you balance traditional and modern cooking techniques?
We try to stay current whilst respecting the traditional environment.
Tell us about the menus at Bodysgallen Hall and how some of them focus on Welsh produce.
Our menus are based on seasonal produce that we have on our own doorstep nearly, everything can be sourced locally.
How do you inspire your kitchen team?
We are so lucky to have these surroundings, that its quite easy to be inspired. We have over 200 acres of National Trust parkland and some spectacular views.
What sustainable and environmental methods inspire you and why?
Our gardens are a great example. We also use rare breed meats and sustainable fishing.