James Sommerin is a multi-award winning chef, who also holds a Michelin Star. He has recently written his life story. Journalist Tomos Povey sat down with him

ONE of the culinary world’s most talented figures has revealed his extraordinary journey, from the hardships of being made redundant to achieving the dream of opening his own restaurant, in a new book.

James Sommerin released his 240-page autobiography - Generations - two months ago.

The book takes readers on a turbulent ride, which documents the fall and remarkable rise of this multi-award winning chef.

In no time at all, it has proved a major hit for the 39-year-old, with more than 200 copies having being sold.

This is not surprising for this is no ordinary autobiography, as it also contains many eagerly-anticipated recipes and picturesque images.

“The book is basically a round-up of my life so far,” he said.

“It also has a lot of personal information about me that people do not know. It has my childhood and when I was travelling, as well as some recipes in the back.

“It was quite hard to come up with the title.

“After a lot of thinking, I came up with the name and it sums up what the book is about. It was my grandmother who inspired me to cook.

“I dedicated the book to her because she got me involved in cooking. I would cook with her on weekends and holidays.

“My children are also involved with cooking. With these two points in mind Generations came forth.”

The chef, who was brought up and educated in Caerleon, left the area aged 16 and moved to Scotland.

In the book he talks of Scotland in great depth, as this is where he “learnt the craft”.

“I did corporate and cooking in Caerleon. I then took my first full-time cooking position at the Cwrt Bleddyn Hotel, near Usk. Shortly afterwards I then moved to Scotland and it was there that I learnt my craft.

“There was so much that I learnt when I was there and it helped me a lot in broadening my skills.”

He added: “When I was there I also met my wife. Then I came back to Wales a few years later and the rest is history.”

Despite the difficulty of doing so, Mr Sommerin also re-lives the “lowest point” in his life by putting into words how he felt when the unthinkable happened.

“The book also gives the highs and lows,” he said.

“Due to my wife’s persuasion, I also include the lowest point in my life. This was when I was made redundant from the Crown at Whitebrook.

“I had started there in 2000 and was later made head chef.

“When I was made redundant it was a massive low for me: I went from an exceptionally good salary and having my first Michelin Star to nothing.

“I talk about this in depth in the book. I was devastated when I had to go. I even lost my cars.

“I had no income yet had to support my family.

“To bring in money, I had to resort to cooking in people’s homes.

“It was difficult to write about this. But later I went on to open a restaurant in Penarth and that for me was one of my highest achievements. In the beginning it was a headache. It is not for the faint-hearted to open a restaurant. There were delays and things not falling into place.

“But now Restaurant James Sommerin is a high point because this place is a family restaurant and we are all involved in it. My daughter is training to become a chef too.

“Another high point for me was getting a Michelin Star. It is a hard thing to put into words how it felt, really.”

And for all the foodies wondering “are there any recipes included?” there is a plethora of mouth-watering dishes to cook at the back of the book.

Mr Sommerin said: “There is about 100 recipes in the back – some are complicated and others easy. There are vegetarian dishes too.

“Some of the dishes are for a more challenging cook, rather than an amateur.”

The Michelin Star chef also expressed gratitude to his wife for putting the book together, saying: “The book would not have happened if it were not for some strong people.

“The strongest person is my wife, who wrote it all. I would like to thank her for writing the book - especially with the personal things.”

The book is £40 at www.jamessommerinrestaurant. co.uk/