The RNLI and me: Tomos Parry
The Michelin-starred restaurant owner and chef tells us what it’s like to grow up on the Welsh coast with the RNLI – and how he’s raising awareness of our lifeboats in London.
What was it like growing up in Anglesey?
I spent the first few years of my life in Beaumaris on Anglesey and practically grew up on the sea because my dad was on the crew there. He has been with the lifeboat for 46 years in total – 30 years as crew member and the past 16 years as deputy launching authority. I always remember him paging the other volunteers and rocketing off to the lifeboat station. Every summer holiday revolved around visiting a new station, like Scarborough, so I’ve been around the RNLI my whole life.
Now you live and work in London, how has your relationship with the water changed?
I don’t see the sea as often as I’d like anymore, but staying safe around the water – any form of water – is important. I want to build a relationship with the RNLI, because people in London still don’t really know the lifeboats exist here. At Brat, our fish comes from local fishermen on dayboats – they wouldn’t dare go out to sea if they knew the RNLI weren’t there to look out for them.
What can you tell us about your restaurant, Brat?
It’s been open since March 2018, so we’re relatively new – it’s a nice, informal and open kitchen so you feel part of it all. We’re mainly a fish-based restaurant and I’m super passionate about our fish being caught and supplied by the dayboats.
Over November and December 2018, Brat kindly added a £1 RNLI donation to every customer’s bill – with an additional donation from the restaurant for every turbot served. What inspired you to support the charity in this way?
It’s a really good way to give back to the charity and raise awareness. It gets the conversation going between customers and reminds them that the restaurant is only here because of the fishermen and the RNLI.
You recently went down to Tower Lifeboat Station to meet the crew. How was that?
I took some of the guys from my restaurant down and Helm Steve King showed us around. It was really cool because, although I’m so used to seeing the RNLI, they had no idea we have lifeboats on the Thames. I’m going down to Tower again with my dad when he comes to London in a couple of weeks. He knows everyone at the station there and feels part of it.
You had an incredible 2018 – opening your own restaurant, which has already earned a Michelin star. What’s on the horizon for you this year?
More of the same! I’d like to keep improving on what we’ve built and make stronger ties with the local fishermen and suppliers. I think once I’ve built that up a bit better, I’ll be able to start thinking about a new project. But I’d also really like to get the guys from Tower to come down and have something to eat at Brat.
About Tomos Parry
Son of Gareth Parry, one of the RNLI’s longest serving crew members, Tomos is the former head chef at Mayfair’s prestigious restaurant Kitty Fisher’s – and now a proud restaurant owner in trendy Shoreditch. His debut restaurant Brat, named after an old English word for turbot (‘the best fish in the world’), opened in 2018 and earned itself a Michelin star within 6 months of opening.
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