Meet YNCOTY finalist Ieuan Davies, chef de partie at the Manor House, at Castle Combe

Ieuen Davies

Ieuan is working at the Manor House in Castle Combe as a chef de partie. He has worked for Exclusive Hotels and Venues for five years and has enjoyed working in a number of their establishments. He did his level 1 and 2 training at Cross Keys College in Wales for two years and then went on to do his level 3 at University College Birmingham (UCB).

Prior to joining Exclusive Hotels, he had the pleasure of working at a number of fine dining restaurants with well-known chefs. He first worked at The Hardwick in Abergavenny under Stephen Terry and from there he went to The Foxhunter under Matt Tebbutt. His next role was working for Chris Harrod at The Whitebrook. Once his training was completed, he went to work for Exclusive Hotels in their Chefs Academy and since then he has cooked at The Manor House in Castle Combe on two occasions and also at Pennyhill Park under Sarah Frankland.

One of the reasons he likes being a chef is it is a job where the sky is the limit and the only thing to hold you back is yourself. His motto is that if you work hard and think high enough then nothing can stop you reaching your goals. Being able to take simple ingredients and be creative with them to make food taste and look different is another reason for being a chef. However, the main thing he loves is the people he works with as he feels a kitchen team is like a family.

When he was growing up, he loved playing rugby, but he lost interest when he was in comprehensive school. Falling in love with cooking, is something he says just sort of happened.

There are two chefs who have inspired him the most in his career so far. The first is Matt Tebbutt who taught him things he wasn’t necessarily learning in college. He showed him that even the simplest food can be complicated in flavour. Matt did not believe in buying stuff in if it could be helped, as they used to butcher all their own meat. The second chef is Sarah Frankland who he worked with at Pennyhill Park for about three years. Ieuan was always interested in pastry but felt he was not very skilled at it, so Sarah took him under her wing and showed him how to improve. It was Sarah who encouraged him to enter his first proper competition with the Graduate Awards Pastry. He achieved the grade and was the Highest Achiever on his first attempt. Sarah made him even more passionate about this industry because of how she could find creativity, even in the smallest of things.

When competing, Ieuan loves the pressure of working to strict timescales and the rush of adrenaline that comes with it. But most of all he simply enjoys showing people how passionate he is about this industry and making good food. He’s over the moon to be part of the Young National Chef of the Year final as it makes him feel like he is achieving his life goal. Events like this help him to ensure that he is on track, but at the same time he is nervous because he is an incredibly competitive person.

Winning this competition would mean the world to him because it would make him feel that there is a light at the end of tunnel and show that good things can happen even at the worst of times. During lockdown, he practiced for the final, typed up his many recipes, cycled and tried to eat more healthily. While he was at home with his parents, the street had a party every Friday night to keep up morale. He used to make cakes for everyone in the street which went down a storm. Spending time with his family for the first time in a long time has been a real lockdown highlight.

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