Bryan Webb, chef-patron at Tyddyn Llan in Llandrillo, Denbighshire, has had quite a year, winning an inaugural Michelin star at the age of 50, releasing his first recipe book and receiving gold in the Wales the True Taste Food and Drink Awards 2010-11. Chris Druce caught up with him.
When you bought the restaurant did you ever imagine that you'd achieve so much? We'd run Hilare in London's South Kensington for 14 years and my wife Susan and I had had our fill. I'm from Wales so buying Tyddyn Llan, a slightly stuffy Georgian Country House at the time, was about a change in lifestyle rather than chasing honours.
How did the recognition from True Taste and Michelin feel? I've never been the sort of chef to say I want to achieve a star, but it's great that Michelin and, for the second time, the Welsh Assembly's True Taste have recognised our plain, good, honest food.
You've been voted the Good Food Guide's Best Restaurant in Wales four times, does this help drive business?
You certainly get good press as a result and, in turn, customers read about you and visit. Certainly picking up a Michelin star has helped us keep the business moving forward in a year [post recession] where it might have slipped back.
Has your clientele changed much as a result of the awards? We get a lot of repeat custom here - the business would not exist without our 12 bedrooms and suite as the nearest town is Wrexham 40 minutes away - but despite this the types of customers visiting have changed slightly. For example, before Michelin I'd be serving 10 to 15 fillet steaks a night while now it will be just a handful with dishes such as roast turbot in demand.
You also became a Master Chef of Great Britain last year and launched your first recipe book, Bryan Webb's Kitchen, earlier this year, so any ambitions left?
Given that I started cooking in 1976 the star has been a long time coming - a case of never too late, I guess. My ambition for the future is to stay in business. We've had a good November and December looks strong so I'm hoping the business will finish this year up on last.
Any rest on the horizon after all the hard work? No, as we've decided not to close for a period in January as we usually do and will instead be taking a few weekends away.