Five minutes with… Alyn Williams

The head chef at Michelin-starred Alyn Williams at The Westbury reveals his love of snowboarding, West Ham and cream of tomato soup

Food and Drink 24 Jul 2019

Chef Alyn Williams
Poached halibut with parsley root and shrimps at The Westbury
Ricotta, beetroot, eel and pecan
Pork jowl and onions at The Westbury

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

I think it’s the same as the advice I give other chefs – don’t give up because it gets tough. Keep plugging away and keep an eye on your ambition. The other advice I always give people is not to lick the spoon after basting meat – you’ll burn your tongue! It’s a lesson learnt from personal experience.

Who is your greatest role model?

My old man, my dad is definitely a key role model for me. He wasn’t in the restaurant business, he worked for the Inland Revenue, but he was passionate about growing and cooking food and he taught me how to eat and cook and was a great example for me. Two people I worked with also come to mind – Angela Hartnett, who I worked with a long time ago at L’Orangerie when we were chefs de partie. She is so talented but also so composed, down to earth and driven. And Mark Askew, who I worked with for Gordon Ramsay, who knows everything about training, development and how to run a kitchen and taught me how important organisation is to restaurants.

What ingredient can you not live without?

Salt. I use a lot of salt, particularly Maldon Sea Salt. It’s just something all chefs need to draw out flavour.

What item, apart from your passport, can you not travel without?

I always take packets of instant Heinz cream of tomato soup with me wherever I go. It’s a comfort thing, I’ve always eaten it and I can’t live without them!

Where are your favourite places to eat in London?

At the moment I’m really enjoying Indian Accent on Albemarle Street. I ate at the New Delhi restaurant a while ago and thought it was amazing, so I was thrilled when the London one opened around a year and a half ago. It’s not Indian food most people are familiar with, it’s an accent of Indian flavour on international dishes, they do a delicious tandoori shepherd’s pie for example.

What do you do on a day off?

I spend time with my family, do house stuff and get chased around by my kids. I have two boys who are 13 and 16 – the younger one is a bit interested in cooking so hopefully he’s getting into it. Apart from that we travel as a family when we can.

What are your biggest passions apart from food?

Travelling is definitely one of them, especially skiing and snowboarding. I used to be a snowboarding guide and I met my wife at a resort in Colorado. We go back to that resort quite often, as well as to Val d’Isere and Chamonix. I’m also a West Ham supporter, I grew up in East Ham so I’ve always followed the team and I’m a season ticket holder.