The native Welshman has a knack for turning nature’s larder into Michelin-style showstoppers
The native Welshman has a knack for turning nature’s larder into Michelin-style showstoppers

Five minutes with... chef Hywel Griffith

Emma Henderson chats to head chef of Wales's restaurant of the year about living off the land, bringing his dog to work and why there are no white tablecloths in sight

Emma Henderson@Emmalouisehendy
Friday 03 November 2017 16:54
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How does it feel to be named the AA restaurant of the year in Wales?

Fantastic. It really is a great start in life for our beachside restaurant and early recognition like this gives us a good base to build our reputation and grow the business. The award has also given us the encouragement to work harder than ever to improve ourselves in 2018.

What do you think won you this accolade?

The whole package really is quite special, from the location, the building, the team, our service levels and of course hopefully my food! We also sincerely care about every detail of the guest and their experience which I think comes across.

Have you had an influx in bookings and interest since you won?

It’s hard to tell as we are now in our second year of being open so we are already more established and busier than ever, but recognition with an award like this undoubtedly helps. Our regular guests are certainly interested and are thrilled that we won.

Would this encourage you to open a second site?

Beach House is a one-off restaurant that we hope becomes a destination restaurant of choice on the Gower. We’ve only just celebrated our year anniversary so there’s a long way to go.

Have you got plans to go for a Michelin star in the future?

The food here is flavour-driven and we aim to look after every guest. If Michelin decide to give us one that would naturally be an incredible achievement but our main goal is to keep our guests happy.

In it’s second year, the Beach House is busier than ever

Are you surprised the team won this award after only being opened a year?

Yes, it came out of the blue. It’s a huge achievement for the team and we all feel immensely proud.

Can you describe your style of cooking?

Modern British, seasonal, fresh and flavour-driven. I’m a keen fishermen, shoot game in my spare time and so I have a genuine passion for meat and fish and where it has come from. I think this is reflected in my menu.

Hywell's courgette flower fritters

What would you say sets your food and the Beach House apart from other restaurants in the area?

An experienced team, passion, consistency and well-cooked local produce.

What’s your favourite dish on the menu?

That’s hard to say, I don’t have a favourite dish. I love the next season and the changing menu. Autumn and the game season is now in full swing at the moment and I particularly love partridge and venison.

How much does your location inspire your cooking?

We’re one of the most scenic coastal restaurants in Wales and the UK and you can’t help but be inspired. Our Lobster comes from Oxwich Bay in front of the restaurant, our meat from local farmers and some of our vegetables from the Penrice Estate where we have our kitchen garden. I’m also a keen forager and the opportunity in this natural setting with marshlands and dunes is fantastic.

How important was this location to you when opening the restaurant?

As soon as you drive in to Oxwich Bay you know it’s something special. Driving down through the marshlands you see glimpses of the bay, which is quite breathtaking. From the restaurant, we have spectacular views over the five mile stretch of coastline including the world renowned Three Cliffs Bay. It really is extraordinary!

What’s the inspiration behind the Beach House?

Our owners, Neil and Zoe Kedward, run a stunning seafood-driven restaurant in Saundersfoot in Pembrokeshire, called Coast Restaurant. The inspiration is good quality food served with a magnificent backdrop of the sea too. When the opportunity came up to have a restaurant overlooking the beautiful Oxwich Bay in the Gower, it really was a simply decision for them as Neil originally comes from the area.

The name sounds a little more causal than it is, was that the intention?

Yes, well we definitely don’t do the usual seaside food of burgers and fish and chips. I think people’s awareness of our style of food is greater than ever and there really is a market here for what we offer. We focus on serving quality food but we want people to be comfortable so have more of a rustic setting. You’ll find the highest quality of food here, just without the white tablecloths!

The Bristol Channel crab with tomato, basil and olive

Where did you train and what made you want to become a chef?

I decided I wanted to be a chef at 13 years of age and to this day I still have no idea where it came from. I went to college and trained at Coleg Menai in Bangor before graduating to the Lanesborough in London. I’ve worked in some fantastic kitchens with acclaimed chefs including Simon Radley at The Chester Grosvenor, Shane Hughes at Ynyshir Hall, Paul Heathcote’s Longridge Restaurant and Steven Smith at Freemasons before I moved to South Wales last year.

Do you find being a chef a hard career because of the hours, stress and late nights?

No, I love it. You have to love it otherwise you can’t do it properly.

Do you eat healthily while working?

Yes, I’m very passionate about healthy food and fitness. My German shepherd, Buckley, comes to work with me every day and has a kennel outside the kitchen, so during my breaks we get some good walks in around the Gower coastline.

What’s your guilty pleasure food?

Steak; my favourite is rib eye.

Which utensils/ tools can you not live without in your kitchen?

Every single thing really. A smaller item like a peeler is just as important as larger equipment like an oven. But I guess every chef has a favourite set of knives that they can’t live without.

What’s your go-to dish for cooking for your friends and family?

My family still live in Bethesda in North Wales, so surprisingly enough they all love coming down and eating in the restaurant! But if it is at home, you can’t beat a BBQ.

Who is your inspiration?

I honestly don’t follow anyone, I’m running my own race.

Are there any other restaurants or chefs in Wales you think we should be looking out for?

I don’t think you can talk about the Welsh food scene without talking about Gareth Ward at Ynyshir Hall.

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