Michelin Starred Welsh Chef James Sommerin speaks about the Welsh Food Festival Scene
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Cardiff has long since been synonymous with a great foodie scene, but it’s at its absolute best right now and home to some of the finest restaurants in Britain. The dining out industry is booming, having seen an increase in international dining in addition the strong presence of traditional British eateries, and the carefully considered provenance of the area’s produce is being acknowledged and rewarded with acclaim. This is Cardiff’s time to shine.
We asked James Sommerin, a Welsh Michelin starred chef, to write the foreword for our 2014 Cardiff Food & Drink Guide - if anybody appreciates Cardiff’s relevance to British food, James does.
Since opening Restaurant James Sommerin, James has come to realise just how fortunate he is to live in an area where he can so readily access high-quality ingredients. He is passionate about produce so it’s incredibly important to have trusted local suppliers to bring him the very best of the season. This year, thanks to Ashtons of Cardiff, a family-run business dealing in exceptionally good quality seafood, he’s been able to work with one of his favourite ingredients – sewin. This fish is only available for a limited time during summer, and amongst chefs, it’s often known as Welsh gold.
Cardiff is ideally situated when it comes to procuring excellent produce, including prawns, lobster and spider crab from Cardigan and Carmarthen, as well as salt-fed lamb from West Wales. The quality of meat has been better than ever this year, and Marcross Farm veal has come into the spotlight for its sustainable farming, which James whole-heartedly supports.
Cardiff isn’t just all about restaurants though; the wider foodie scene is also right on the doorstep, with easy access to some of the UK’s best food festivals. James is already getting geared up for the Abergavenny Food Festival, which he has attended for the past 13 years now, alongside 30,000 fellow foodies. Quality is the main driving force behind the festival, so top-notch vendors are guaranteed, as well as a huge variety of cooking demonstrations and guest appearances from some of the best chefs in the UK. The Newport Food Festival in October is also really close to James’ heart. The bustling festival is jam-packed with stalls, demonstrations and opportunities to sample tasty treats, and James will be running a few of his own masterclasses this year.
For James Sommerin, Wales will always be home; it’s a privilege to be at the thick of such a thriving food and drink scene, and for James, to own a restaurant in such a beautiful location is a dream come true. Cardiff has always been a key player in Britain’s gastronomic success, and it’s just getting better and better.