Small Talk

James Sommerin on the highs and lows of going it alone

By Carina Perkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

"Gaining a Michelin star has been the high point for me so far, hopefully one day I will see one at Restaurant James Sommerin" - James Sommerin
"Gaining a Michelin star has been the high point for me so far, hopefully one day I will see one at Restaurant James Sommerin" - James Sommerin

Related tags: Restaurant, Eating, Chef

James Sommerin, former head chef of the Michelin-starred Crown at Whitebrook in South East Wales, opened restaurant with rooms Restaurant James Sommerin on the Esplanade in Pernarth earlier this year.

So how is it going at Restaurant James Sommerin so far?

The restaurant is going really well, we have been open a few months now and I certainly can not complain. We have had a vast range of diners from previous regulars of mine to UEFA. All our diners and the residents of Penarth have been so supportive, this is our first restaurant and its been a very daunting process but we have been overwhelmed by the kindness and support from everyone.

Tell us a bit more about the food you are serving

We are currently running tasting menus in the evening, making the most of all our fantastic local ingredients.

Are your customers all local or are they coming from further afield?

We have had diners coming from far and wide, even as far as Australia.

How does running your own restaurant compare your previous experiences as head chef?

Wow! Completely different and definitely more stressful but in the same respect more rewarding.

What has been the best part of setting up alone?

Freedom, being able to create what I want and having no restrictions. I wanted the restaurant to be a family business and with my wife working here and my three girls being involved I’m seeing more of them now than I ever have which is great.

What has been the hardest?

Staff. Finding and retaining staff has been the hardest challenge so far. Finding staff that have the same passion and drive as we do and a bit of stupidity - I think as the hours we work are ridiculous. The team we have now are fab but we do need more members of staff in front of house and in the kitchen. We have also found that trying to please everyone all of the time is something that is never going to happen.

What new challenges does running a hotel pose?

Good question, we are not classing ourselves as a hotel we will be a restaurant with rooms. Hopefully the rooms will run nicely alongside the restaurant and won't pose a problem.

What have been the highlights of your career so far? 

Gaining a Michelin star has been the high point for me so far, hopefully one day I will see one at Restaurant James Sommerin. Opening the restaurant has also been a high point as it was a dream I have always had.

Where do you like to eat out?

When we are dining out with family we like Yo Sushi and Wagammas as they serve good food and are child friendly. If we are looking for fine dining we tend to head towards London and go for starred restaurants- we do take the children as well, as long as restaurants are happy to have them. We have just taken them to Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in the Mandarin Oriental which has two Michelin Stars.

Any advice for young chefs?

Perseverance would be the main piece of advice I would give any young chef. The job is hard, the hours are long and social life pretty non-existent, but if you have that perseverance and passion you will succeed and it I promise you it will be worth it.

Related topics: Business, Venues, People, Restaurants

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