In conversation with the Head Chef: great produce, great food and the Great Outdoors

Our dining menus have recently undergone a major revamp so we caught up with Chef Aron to find out more about him, his team and what makes him tick as our Head Chef.

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Whether you opt for a spot of casual dining at our Eryri Bar & Lounge or indulge in the full à la carte experience in our AA Rosette Padarn Restaurant, you'll enjoy stylish surroundings, good food and a warm Welsh welcome as standard in our Llanberis restaurants!

Showcasing the best local and seasonal ingredients and produce, the food and drink menus at the Royal Victoria Hotel have been developed to tantalise your tastebuds with a true taste of Wales. It's all thanks to our dedicated kitchen team, headed up by Head Chef Aron, that we can offer a delicious selection of local food and drinks to residents and non-residents alike.

Our menus have recently undergone a major revamp and the feedback has been fantastic so far. With a greater emphasis than ever before on local and sustainable produce, we're proud to support local Welsh suppliers and producers.

We caught up with Chef Aron to find out more about him, his team and what makes him tick as our Head Chef...

Tell us about yourself, Chef.

Hi, my name is Aron Davies and I’m 38 years old. I've been catering since I was 16 (22 years and still learning!) and I started my career working for the Ministry of Defence, where I spent 6 years cooking for military personnel. For the first few years I catered for Privates and Lance Corporals and then I went onto the Officers' Mess - think fine dining for officers in the British Army. It's here I fell in love with catering; the standard of the food that was getting produced blew my mind! I went on to obtain a NVQ Level 3 in Catering.

Behind every great chef is a hardworking team. Can you introduce the kitchen team at the Royal Victoria?

At the hotel, we have a team of 10+ chefs and 6+ kitchen porters, it's a busy kitchen with all sorts of characters and personalities!

I’m lucky to have 2 Senior Sous Chefs both with more than 15 years service for the hotel, a breakfast chef who’s been here for over 25 years and several staff members with 2-6 years' service. I think this tells a really great story about how we are treated as a team in the hotel.

What’s your cooking style? Tell us about your sourcing and supplier ethos.

Working in a hotel in Snowdonia, my cooking style is simple but effective, staying true to my Welsh roots whatever dish I'm creating. For example, if I'm creating an Asian-inspired dish, I aim to put a Welsh twist on it. My favourite cooking style is pan-frying because I feel you can really capture the natural flavours of the produce using this method.

I, like many chefs, prioritise sourcing high-quality ingredients and supporting local suppliers. At the hotel, we focus on using seasonal, organic, or sustainable produce, meats, and seafood. I have direct relationships with local farmers, fishermen and food producers to ensure the freshness and quality of our ingredients.

How do you come up with new menus and dishes and what’s your inspiration?

I draw inspiration from various sources when creating new menus and dishes. This can include personal experiences, travel, cultural influences, culinary traditions, even visiting local competitors, and sometimes just through experimentation. I also consider customer preferences, dietary trends and feedback. Naturally, I collaborate with my kitchen team to brainstorm and develop new ideas as well.

What’s your favourite ingredient and why?

As funny as this sounds, it’s definitely salt! A pinch of salt can transform an average dish into a great dish. I like to cure all my fish, with salt being the main ingredient in the curing process. We use a high-quality local sea salt in all our cooking. We source it from Halen Mon and it is authentic Welsh sea salt from Anglesey.

What's your favourite meal on the menu and why?

Without doubt, Welsh lamb is my favourite, particularly the à la carte version. I enjoy matching high-quality ingredients to complement this high-quality meat while making it look attractive on the plate.

Why should people visit Llanberis and Eryri (Snowdonia)?

So many reasons! For me, Llanberis and Eryri is the ultimate outdoor playground. There are stunning natural landscapes and a wide range of exciting outdoor activities for visitors to experience. For scenery, the Eryri National Park with its lakes, mountains and waterfalls has to be one of the most breathtaking natural landscapes in the UK.

Here in the village there's loads to do too and the Royal Victoria is one of the best situated hotels in Llanberis. We've got the National Slate Museum, watersports on Llyn Padarn and the Snowdonia Mountain Railway all within walking distance of the hotel, plus opportunities for hiking, climbing, cycling and much more right on our doorstep.