The Welsh Chef cooking seven-course taster menus from a coffee shop kitchen
A Welsh chef who cut his teeth in some of London’s top restaurants is now creating multi-course tasting menus to rival any Michelin star venue – and all from the kitchen of a local Cardiff coffee shop.
Chef Tom Waters, 31, who grew up in Newport and went to school in Caerleon, has previously worked under acclaimed Welsh chef Bryn Williams at Odette’s, before moving on to the two Michelin starred restaurant The Square (under legendary chef Phil Howard).
Quickly rising through the ranks, Tom went on to become sous chef at Michelin starred Bonhams in Mayfair, and most recently, became part of the leadership team at celeb chef Heston Blumenthal’s flagship restaurant The Fat Duck in Bray, where he was quickly promoted to Junior Sous Chef.
A move back to Wales in March 2021 came with ambitions to open a brand-new restaurant in the Welsh capital. But with the economic uncertainties caused by the pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis, and ongoing staff shortages in hospitality, Tom quickly had to rethink his plans.
Instead, he launched Gorse, a pop-up restaurant which showcases “flavour-centric food served in an unpretentious and relaxed environment.” Since launch, Gorse has toured independent kitchens around Cardiff including Glory Stores, Little Man Coffee and Waterloo Tea, but as of the beginning of this year, it will enjoy an extended residency at Pontcanna coffee shop and bakery, Ground.
This latest residency gives Tom free reign to showcase his own unique style of cooking every Friday and Saturday night. As the venue’s kitchen is also fully visible through a huge glass window, guests can look on as each dish on the menu is single-handedly prepared and served to an intimate 18 covers per night.
Tom explained, “I love cooking with British and wherever possible, Welsh produce, always using the very best of what’s in season. I work closely with suppliers that I trust who can tell me what’s at its peak – and then each menu is designed to make the most of those ingredients.”
Combining seasonal produce with exacting technique and attention to detail, a sample Gorse tasting menu is available to view here.
And at a time when many hospitality venues and high-end restaurants are limiting the preferences and dietary adjustments they can make, Tom is bucking the trend by being as flexible as possible to each diner’s needs and preferences.
He said, “I just want people to enjoy the food and have a great time whether they are vegan, pescatarian, gluten-free, or anything else, so I can make changes to accommodate any preferences people have.
My aim is to make Gorse as inclusive and enjoyable as possible for anyone who wants to try my food.”
Tom still has his sights set on his own bricks and mortar restaurant, but until then, his Gorse residency at Ground will run every Friday and Saturday night for the foreseeable future.
For more information and to book a table, visit: https://www.gorserestaurant.co.uk.
By Jane Cook | Jane Chico Mendes.