Hailing from Anglesey, Wales, chef Tomos Parry has made a distinctive mark on London’s dining scene in recent years. Previously head chef at the popular Mayfair eatery Kitty Fisher’s, Parry ventured away in 2016 to quietly plan his first solo restaurant, Brat. Parry opened Brat’s doors in the spring of 2018, and though it has been less than one year since its launch, the Shoreditch restaurant has already earned a Michelin star, and is a favourite among eminent guests including the likes of Brad Pitt and Nigella Lawson.
Parry did not always intend on becoming a chef. He started washing pots in North Walian restaurants at the age of 13, but at the time, dreamt of becoming a guitarist. He attended Cardiff University, studying Politics and History with a goal of becoming an investigative journalist. During his first year at university, he started working at a restaurant called Le Gallois in Pontcanna, where he met his mentor, Grady Atkins. Parry began to work at Le Gallois more and more, picking up extra shifts and growing increasingly inspired by Atkins’ innovative, farm-to-table style cooking. By the time he had graduated, he knew that he wanted to work in restaurants and become a chef.
Parry moved to London from Cardiff when he was 25, working at different restaurants, including Ruth Rogers’ River Café, before he began barbecuing at Climpson’s Arch in Hackney, which he credits for pushing forward his career. When the owners of Kitty Fisher’s decided to stop by for a meal, they tried the grilled grouse, and offered Parry a job almost immediately. At Kitty Fisher’s, he whipped up Basque-inspired dishes such as grilled langoustines covered with lardo and rosemary, and white crab seasoned with pickled Welsh seaweed and lava bread. In 2014, Parry received the accolade of Chef of the Year at the Young British Foodie Awards, going onto gain much critical acclaim.
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Today, Parry has moved away from all other previous projects and focuses solely on his own restaurant, Brat. The name comes from the colloquial term for “turbot”, in honour of what Parry considers to be the best fish in the world. Inspired by his Welsh roots and Basque cooking style, Parry cooks much of the food over a charcoal fire, like their famous whole fish and chops of beef. Brat focuses very closely on the regional provenance of its ingredients, sourcing a lot of their produce and dairy products from UK farms, such as the Maerdy Farm in South Wales.
The menu is structured around the native ingredients’ peak seasons, meaning that there is always a new, exciting item to choose from. Some of the most popular dishes include slow grilled little Red Mullet, Cedar Wood Sea trout with Jersey cream and river herbs, and, of course, grilled turbot. Not only is the food robust, but so is the space; the stairs are narrow, wine bottles line the walls, and the wooden floors from the restaurants previous life as a strip club still survive. Brat has received glowing reviews, and continues to earn gleeful, buzzing enthusiasm from diners and critics alike.
“I don’t really want to be somebody who does everything themselves. I like working with other people: having someone who does charcuterie, someone who does the wine … I don’t understand this chef thing, which is a quite recent phenomenon: ‘Oh yes, we do everything in-house.’ It’s borderline arrogance to think you can make everything yourself anyway.” – The Guardian, 2018
“Brat will focus on fire cooking recognisable from Getaria, which generally means buy well and don’t ruin it. Since leaving Kitty’s, I’ve been working closely with farmers and fisherman to create a menu which is structured around native ingredients at the peak of their season. For me, the simple pleasure of eating well is what BRAT is all about. It’s a place I would want to eat – whether that be one dish with a glass of wine at lunch or settling in at the bar for a few hours.” – The Caterer, 2018
On being a chef:
“I like that the harder you work, the better the product is. It’s that simple. I started cooking relatively late so I had to cram in as much experience as possible really. I kept changing restaurants because I had to get as much into my head, in as short a time as possible.” – Vice, 2016
Words by Jane Herz | Feature image via Brat