Meet YNCOTY finalist Harry Paynter Roberts, commis chef at Moor Hall Restaurant

Harry Paynter

Harry is currently a commis chef at Moor Hall Restaurant with Rooms after studying professional cookery levels 1, 2 and 3 at College Llandrillo in North Wales, where he is originally from.

He began his professional career with Jimmy Williams at Signature’s Restaurant where he worked for just under two years. Jimmy inspired him to get involved in competitions throughout his career and he represented Wales in numerous events, including the culinary World Cup, and a global chef competition where they won gold. He then went on to work at the Castle Hotel in Conwy, where he developed and refined his skills. His next role was at Manchester House where he began to understand true fine dining working under Aiden Byrne and then Nathaniel Tofan.

Harry loves working as a team, especially when everyone is pushing for the same goals. Regardless of the hierarchy, he feels everyone understands each other’s passion and drive. The thing he loves most about being a chef, is the creativeness and imagination that goes into developing food and dishes. Food is everything to him and it always has been.

Even at a young age he knew it would be the career path he would take. He remembers being very young watching James Martin on the tv and being absolutely engrossed with what he saw. This just led to him wanting to learn more. Different chefs have inspired him for different reasons in those early stages of his career, but one thing they all say is that it’s about the flavour bombs!

One of his motives for competing is that as a young chef you don’t often get a chance to think of your own dishes, so he thinks it is great to be able to test yourself and see what you're capable of. Working with his senior chefs and getting their input has been amazing and it has really helped further his knowledge. He feels honoured to be in the final ten of this year’s competition and knows it could be a huge part of his career that he will remember forever. Hearing his name as the winner, may cause a few tears of happiness as he feels it would be the accumulation of years of grafting.

During lockdown, he was lucky enough to have a great friend from work let him stay with his family. His dad is an accomplished chef, so they were cooking up a storm almost every day for three months. Although he missed work, this was the best way to spend time. COVID-19 has reminded him that there’s a lot more in life then just work, which he thinks many chefs forget in normal day to day life.

Lockdown was used to think of ideas and recipes for the YNCOTY brief as it can be a struggle to find time with a busy work life. It’s been a challenge to bring everything together, but he has gone into work on his days off every week to make it happen and give this competition his best shot.

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