As Head chef and sole proprietor of Odette’s Restaurant at Primrose Hill in London, Bryn Williams has designed his restaurant garden to provide a tranquil space for diners to relax before they eat. “People want to forget about the stresses of their day and they see a garden as a little piece of paradise.” Bryn explains. “Odette’s garden is full of lemon thyme, bay trees, lavender and other herbs. Clients sit out there with a drink for half an hour and they relax before having a nice lunch or dinner and then they go back out into the big bad World feeling much stronger.”
“I helped my grandparents cut the grass when I was young but only did it for the money,” he laughs, “ I wish I’d learnt more about gardening then as I could be saving money now by being able to do more of the planting myself.”
“60% of all the herbs we use in the kitchen come from our garden; so if you are having a Mojito in the summer, the mint will be ours,” he adds proudly. “The lavender goes really well braised lamb; it can be a bit too floral so we dry it first to concentrate the flavour. Food is all about flavour. People put other things first; price, presentation, convenience but they should forget those things and just think about the flavour. If the flavour is good then the quality will be good. We use some organic ingredients but only if they taste good not because they’re organic. Smell your fruit and veg before you buy it, if a strawberry doesn’t smell like a strawberry it won’t taste like one.”
When Denbigh born Bryn won the BBC’s Great British Menu in 2006, he had, famously, used all Welsh ingredients. “Across the board from dairy to fish, Wales has the finest ingredients Europe has to offer. Our farmers are unsung heroes and deserve more recognition and support,” he states loyally. “The fact that there is no motorway from north to south Wales may be a pain but it means there is no pollution and the ground is the most nutritious agricultural land in Europe. The brilliant thing about Food Festivals across Wales, like the one at the National Botanic Garden this weekend, is that they show people what great food Wales has to offer; people are usually quite surprised.”
“Another great Welsh ingredient is wild garlic as its ready to harvest 2 weeks earlier in Wales than anywhere else in the UK. I’ll be getting my Dad to pick some and send it up for the restaurant,” he adds proudly.
If you’re planning a trip to London, pop into www.odettesprimrosehill.co.uk