A dash of Ramsay and a pinch of Campbell: Richard Davies on opening Epicure

By Liam Garrahan contact

- Last updated on GMT

Michelin-starred chef, Richard Davies, is opening Epicure at the Celtic Manor Resort in February
Michelin-starred chef, Richard Davies, is opening Epicure at the Celtic Manor Resort in February

Related tags: Great british menu, Cooking, Manor house

Welsh-born Michelin-starred chef, Richard Davies, is opening Epicure at Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Wales, and is hoping to take inspiration from his acclaimed mentors to help him along the way.

Davies, who enjoyed a stint on the BBC’s Great British Menu, will open the 50-cover restaurant on Valentines weekend.

“We’ve all got our own creative identity but I will be using a bit of Gordon Ramsay’s passion and attention to detail and some of John Campbell’s knowledge of food and thinking about things outside of the box, and using more modern techniques to create fantastic food,” he told BigHospitality.

“I will draw upon everything I’ve ever learned. We learn from every job that we have, but having worked in one, two and three Michelin-starred kitchens I like to take a bit of everything I’ve learned from each of them and put my own twists on things.”

Davies previously worked in the kitchens at Celtic Manor when he was 18 and he admits that returning to where it started is an odd prospect.

“It’s strange because there’s actually quite a few people who are still here from my time around, not just in the kitchen but in other departments as well, so I’ve been warmly welcomed around the resort and it’s been a great reception,” he said.

“They get a lot of these famous golfers and rugby players and they stay in some of the lodges here, so hopefully I can get to cook for some of them.”

Since leaving the resort he has gone on to earn Michelin-stars at the Manor House near Bath, and at Sawyards in West Sussex, but he isn’t feeling the pressure to repeat the achievements.

“I think the Michelin star is one of the reasons why they wanted to get me on board. It’s been a goal of theirs for a number of years now and maybe they saw it as that I would be a good candidate to try to do that here. It is in an expectation to a degree but it isn’t something that I feel that I need to prove, I just want to cook fantastic food.

“We’d like to gain recognition from all of the top guides. Having held a star for a number of years people are going to be expecting that here, but I just cook food that I’m comfortable with. We don’t set out to gain X award or Y award, it’s more about cooking for the guests and if we do things properly and do things well, by cooking the best produce with care and love, I suppose the recognition will come on the back of quality cooking.”

His role at the Manor House saw him oversee all of the kitchen’s operations from breakfast through lunch and afternoon tea and dinner, as well as corporate events and weddings. A more relaxed role at Epicure will give him time to work on new dishes.

“Here we do two lunches and five dinners a week with a maximum of 50-covers, we’re off Sundays and Mondays and we have the same guys in the kitchen every day, so it gives me a real focus on the restaurant where my attention is not being drawn to other areas of the kitchen, giving me more time to develop and create an exciting product.”

The menu at the restaurant will include a Turbot dish that he says is the only one that stayed on the menu in his last position due to its ‘perfect balance of flavours’, and his Great British Menu dessert, an adapted version of a Strawberries and Cream classic. His time on the show led to greater recognition with guests, but he would only do more television work if it was right for him.

“I think it helped greatly because whilst I had the Michelin star at the Manor House it gave me more exposure and put more bums on seats, while opening the doors to more possibilities outside and inside of work and other opportunities,” he said.

“If the right thing came along I would look at it, but at the moment my focus is on this, and after getting settled here I would look at other things, but it isn’t something that I feel I have to or want to pursue unless it was the right thing.”

In terms of expansion, the Welsh chef wants to impress his countrymen before looking beyond Epicure and into the future.

“There are no other openings at the moment, but being from South Wales it would be great to build a following and a profile back home again, but who knows what the future holds?”

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