Huw has been involved in the hospitality trade from a young age through the family business and so serving customers and working a busy service comes as second nature. It’s not all work and no play though, here we get to know Huw a little better and find out about his passions and aspirations.
What’s your ideal of the perfect ‘day off’?
A lie in would be nice, but with a toddler I know that’s not going to happen! The day would definitely involve eating out, some of my most favourite dining experiences have been down in Cornwall so maybe a meal at one of our favourite haunts The Cove in Maenporth. It has a fantastic terrace overlooking the sea from which we have sat and enjoyed many a beer. They serve the freshest and tastiest seafood and local produce – top notch and not overly expensive. A walk on the beach afterwards with Ruth, Harry and the dog would finish it off nicely.
What have been your greatest achievements with work and also personal?
A few spring to mind, I was involved in establishing and running a new restaurant in Kenilworth which opened in 2008. Under my management we were lucky enough to receive two awards, Restaurant of the Year 2008 in the Warwickshire Life Awards and Best Newcomer in the Metro’s Food and Drink Awards.
But by far the best so far is taking on The Bell Inn and turning the business around. We have just reached our 2 year milestone. It may not sound very long but in this trade it is quite an achievement, especially as my wife and I took the place on when it was in a real mess and transformed it with only funding from a government start-up loan and some elbow grease! We are really pleased with how the business is going, there is always room for improvement though.
On a more personal level there are also a couple of achievements which stand out. When I was younger I was always into martial arts and after years of training I gained my black belt in karate. I also ran the London Marathon in 2006 raising over £4000 for Children with Cancer. One day I will run it again!
What’s your proudest moment at The Bell so far?
I’m not sure about the proudest moment here, but certainly receiving recognition from Ladbroke villagers about how the pub has helped bring the community together in the last two years makes all the hard work worthwhile. Also being selected by Sawdays to go in their Special Pub Collection, plus receiving the Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence this year also proves to me that we must be doing something right!
The most famous person you have served whilst in this trade?
Whilst I was working in Kenilworth we had Phil Tuffnell dining in the restaurant. He was a genuinely funny guy and came across much like he does when he’s on A Question of Sport! Years ago Peter Phillips, Princess Anne’s son, used to be a regular at a restaurant I worked at in Woburn.
Here at The Bell we have had Daniel Brocklebank in quite a few times, AKA Billy the Vicar from Corrie. But I wouldn’t exactly say we’ve been inundated with celebs!
Who inspires you in the hospitality trade?
Michel Roux Jr. is up there with the best. His skill as a chef and impeccable attention to detail has to be admired. Le Gavroche is a place I would really like to dine at one day.
With a different style entirely but also with Michelin stars is The Hand and Flowers, Tom Kerridge’s establishment in Marlow. We were fortunate enough to eat there earlier this year and it didn’t disappoint. He too has the grit, determination and discipline to get the job done which is what I really admire.
Was your ambition always to work in the hospitality trade?
No, not at all. After finishing my A’ levels I had aspirations of being in the Armed Forces, in particular the RAF, but it wasn’t to happen. I therefore went off to university and gained a degree. Since then I have largely worked in the hospitality trade, climbing the ranks.
I also spent a year more recently working on my father-in-laws farm, learning many new skills. It was an incredibly rewarding and enjoyable year and also very beneficial for me. It has given me a better understanding of the complexities and different factors involved in producing crops, which ultimately end up on our plates. The hospitality trade is in my blood though, so it was only natural for me to return to it when the opportunity to take on The Bell Inn, Ladbroke arose.
Next up in our Who's Who interviews is Denise, who's been with us here at The Bell since the start. If you haven't already signed up to receive our monthly newsletter then do it now and hear our latest news first! Head to our Email Signup page.
The Bell Inn blog is updated by Ruth.