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Sustainable Futures with Alaska Seafood part five: Alyn Williams, chef-patron, Alyn Williams at the Westbury and the Wild Rabbit

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Sustainable Futures with Alaska Seafood part five: Alyn Williams, chef-patron, Alyn Williams at the Westbury and the Wild Rabbit

For Alaska Seafood, sustainability doesn’t just relate to fish. It’s about creating a sustainable workforce, attracting new talent and promoting the industry as a great place to work. Over the next four months, Alaska Seafood will be unearthing the future stars of the hospitality industry. In part five, we meet chef-patron Alyn Williams

What is your job and what does the role entail?
I am chef-patron of both Alyn Williams at the Westbury in Mayfair, London, and the Wild Rabbit in Kingham, Oxfordshire. I am very hands-on in both, overseeing the kitchens and working closely with my head chefs. I also work very closely with the front of house and wine teams, as well as marketing and PR.

How did you get involved in this industry?
It was an easy fit, really. I was 16 years old, working as a kitchen porter in a small restaurant in the West End of London. I fell in love with the hospitality industry straight away and was soon taken out of the pot-wash and onto the garnish section. I stayed in that position for a year until I enrolled on a professional cooking course in Waltham Forest College in East London.

What do you love about it?
I love everything about hospitality. The cooking and creativity is, of course, the best bit, but I enjoy the interaction with our guests, understanding the complexities of wine and foodservice, and the wider roles that the job entails.

I also love the community of cooks – it’s a much friendlier place now than it was in years gone by. We love a collaboration or an awards dinner to catch up with friends, share stories and learn what our contemporaries are doing in their kitchens.

What do you find challenging?
At the moment, the most challenging part of the business is staffing. We are very lucky at the Westbury to have a team that has been with us for many years. Out in Oxfordshire, it is a bit more of a struggle to find staff who want to relocate to the countryside.

Who was your biggest icon growing up who inspired this career choice?
My dad. He was a very good cook and was the person who taught me about flavour and the enjoyment of eating. I also had a couple of very good teachers at college who saw something in me. They pushed me and gave me some great advice.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I would like to branch out a bit more and explore other styles. The landscape of the industry is vastly different now to how it was even five years ago, so it’s important to keep up, be relevant and to offer your guests what they want.

What advice would you give to those trying to break into this industry?
It’s important to be passionate about food and hospitality, but just passion is not enough. Be prepared to work hard, absorb as much knowledge as you can and take criticism as a positive, constructive tool to learn from, not as a negative.

To find out more, head to www.alaskaforeverwild.com

• Sustainable Futures with Alaska Seafood part one: Susie Brito, fisherman

• Sustainable Futures with Alaska Seafood part two: Natalia Ribbe, founding director of Ladies of Restaurants

• Sustainable Futures with Alaska Seafood part three: Olly Bird, executive head chef, the Beast and Zelman Group

• Sustainable Futures with Alaska Seafood part four: Victoria Cook, senior buyer, M&J Seafood

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