Gareth Johns, chef-proprietor at the Wynnstay hotel, Machynlleth, Wales, has been accepted as a full member of the Master Chefs of Great Britain (MCGB). He spoke to Gemma Rowbotham about what the honour means to him.
How did it feel to become a member of the MCGB? I was absolutely delighted. There are not many MCGBs in Wales so I'm part of an elite cadre. It was first mentioned about two years ago by industry colleagues, but I was finally proposed last year by John Retallick, who is also vice-president of the Craft Guild of Chefs. Bryan Webb, chef-patron at Tyddyn Llan in Llandrillo seconded it and I found out earlier this year.
How involved are you with the MCGB's aims to train and develop youngsters?
Training chefs has been one of the most important things I can do. I'm passionately involved in educating others. Knowledge should be shared, that's one of the things I feel strongly about - persuading people to get involved and making them feel part of the industry.
What advice do you give aspiring young chefs?
Do your job properly, strive for perfection and not mediocrity. Find a good mentor and listen to them. Most of all enjoy it.
What have been your career highlights so far?
Being elected to MCGB, of course. Highlights include the Smithsonian Folklife Festival - we were a team of six chefs and cooks representing the food culture of Wales. Representing Wales in South Africa on the World Cooks Tour for Hunger in 2003, cooking for the Queen at the opening of the Welsh Assembly, and winning the Gold medal at the Royal Welsh Show for lamb cookery were also standout moments.
But the biggest highlight is when a customer takes the trouble to say how much they've enjoyed the food.
What are your future plans?
I've been at the Wynnstay for 11 years and three years ago my brother Paul and I bought the business. We want to keep steadily improving the food and drink, and the furnishings and facilities, while retaining the quaint character of the Georgian building.
We want lots of happy customers, who come again. Hearing the clink of cutlery and seeing people breaking bread and enjoying themselves is still better than any stars.