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Stephen Terry may have left behind the limelight of a high-flying career in London for a country life in Wales with his wife Jo and two children, but his talent, passion and drive have certainly stayed with him. A unanimous winner among a high-calibre group of nominees, the chef-proprietor of the Hardwick in Abergavenny impressed judges with his business acumen and flair, having turned a former derelict pub into a destination restaurant with rooms.
In the early 1990s, Terry worked at two of London's most iconic restaurants: Harvey's under Marco Pierre White and Le Gavroche under Michel Roux Jnr, before taking on Chelsea's Canteen for White, garnering the restaurant a Michelin star. He spent time in France at L'Arpege, led by Alain Passard, and put Oliver Peyton's Coast in Mayfair on the map - where many great chefs, including Jason Atherton, Hywel Jones, Mark Sargeant and Dan Lepard - worked under his direction.
Terry took his first plunge in to chef-proprietorship in 2001 and gained another star during his relatively short-lived stay at the Walnut Tree - the reason he came to Abergavenny in the first place. After stints at Cecconi's in London and the Pear Tree Inn in Wiltshire, he bought the freehold to the Hardwick in November 2005 and over the past six-and-a-half years has turned it into a thriving business.
And never one to rest, Terry now has his eyes set on a new challenge: to open a restaurant in Cardiff.
The vast menu at the Hardwick offers the kind of food that is honest and unpretentious. On it you'll find dishes like Provençal-style fish soup; linguini with fried minced rabbit and chorizo; or roast cod and slow-cooked shin of beef with mashed potato, braised red cabbage and spinach. Terry himself admits that "the choice is almost ridiculous" but adds that while he can't be all things to all people there is something for most people to enjoy.
In 2010, Terry added eight stylish en suite bedrooms to the Hardwick featuring high-definition televisions, Wi-Fi and iPod docking stations.
As nominator Shaun Hill, chef-proprietor of the Walnut Tree Inn, notes: "The Hardwick saved by good food when Terry opened it but is now a stylish restaurant attracting lots of people from all over Wales and England. He may be my competition but you cannot take away the fact that he is a first-rate restaurateur not just a first-rate chef."
WHAT THE JUDGES SAID
"He is the true restaurateur, one who has had to single-handedly deal with, make decisions about and come to understand every aspect of this multifaceted business and in doing so successfully he has become an all-round outstanding restaurateur."
Philip Howard, the Square
â- Russell Norman and Richard Beatty, co-owners, Polpo, Polpetto, da Polpo, Spuntino and Mishkin's
â- Stephen Terry, chef-proprietor, the Hardwick, Abergavenny
â- Ed Wilson, Eric Narioo and Oli Barker, Terroirs, Brawn, Soif, Green Man & French Horn
The JudgesBridget Croft, group operations manager, ETM Group
Anthony Demetre, chef-patron, Arbutus Restaurants
Paul Heathcote, chef-proprietor, Heathcotes Restaurants
Philip Howard, chef-patron, the Square
Alistair Sandall, key account manager, AA Hotels Services
Nick Vadis, UK executive chef, Compass Group UK and Ireland
Richard Vines, chief food critic, Bloomberg