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Steve Terry – My life in hospitality

08 May 2009 by
Steve Terry – My life in hospitality

Steve Terry is the chef-proprietor of the Hardwick in Abergavenny.

In his own words, Steve Terry's journey to the Hardwick, his Michelin-starred restaurant in Abergavenny, which he runs with his wife Joanna, has been a long and interesting one.

Highlights include working with Marco Pierre White "when he was at his most creative" at the legendary Harvey's restaurant in London, Michel Roux Jnr at Le Gavroche, and Nick Nairn at Braeval Old Mill, Aberfoyle. Terry also worked at the Canteen (part-owned by actor Michael Caine); and at Le Roches near St Tropez and L'Arpege in Paris.

"I've learnt that you get a lot further in this life - and in this industry - with sugar than with vinegar," he says.

"Building friendships and treating people how you like to be treated is crucial. I've always tried to be that way, but I know I've also calmed down since moving out of London and starting a family.

"I never saw myself being in town for ever. In terms of work, there's no difference - it's just that Abergavenny is a nicer place to have a bad day."

Highs… Taking part in the Great British Menu dinner at the Gherkin in London as one of the finalists alongside Jason Atherton and Glynn Purnell last year was incredible. When would I ever get a chance to meet all those people in one room? It wasn't about being a great cook; it was just a great experience.

We were able to create a good marketing campaign for the restaurant off the back of it and the custom we received as a result of the programme has been sustained ever since.

Many of the chefs who take part in the Great British Menu run fine dining restaurants and say they get a peak in business after the programme, but then it slowly goes down again. However, they aren't necessarily restaurants that you frequent on a regular basis. We're very much a local restaurant for local people so it's worked brilliantly for us.

Other highlights are seeing people like Hywel Jones and Jason Atherton go on to great success, having had a very small part in who they are. They've passed through my kitchen and I've had the opportunity to help and influence them very slightly.

Lows… After we opened the Hardwick, we became really good friends with two customers, Nick and Susan. We used to go out to dinner with them a lot and last year we agreed to go to the Top 50 Restaurants event in London with them.

During lunch service, there was an accident outside the restaurant and as a result the police asked us to keep all customers in the restaurant until they had sorted things out.

I tried to get hold of Susan to let her know she might struggle getting to the restaurant. Our friends were late and some three hours later I found out they had been killed in the accident.

They were so into the Great British Menu, we drank lovely wines with them and as Nick and I shared the same birthday, we were going to celebrate his 50th and my 41st that night - I'd packed some crystal glasses and he'd packed a bottle of Petrus.

Every time I pull up at the restaurant, I think of Nick and Susan, who were so proud of what we'd achieved. We're starting a refurbishment shortly and we're planning on having something in their memory.

Age 42

Family Married to Joanna with two children and one on the way

Favourite holiday West Wales

Drives Volkswagen Passat (with lots of dents in it because it frustrates the hell out of me and I kick it)

Motto The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary


Harvey's in south London, Le Gavroche, Braeval Old Mill, the Canteen, head chef at Coast, opening the Hardwick with his wife Joanna in 2005


  • It's hard to come up with any recessionary tips when you run a small business, as we have always been careful. A recession is like a forest fire - it wipes out the deadwood - so when people say they got hit by it I feel they were never going to make it anyway.
  • We pay our front-of-house staff by the hour, which we feel is fair.
  • - We offer value for money and we don't take the piss out of people.
  • We use what's in season and readily available. On a daily basis, my inspiration comes purely from the produce I receive and I go from there. If I couldn't be creative every day, I wouldn't get out of bed.

By Emily Manson

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