Within the very upright University Arms Hotel, in Cambridge, there seems to be a bit of mischief afoot, courtesy of chef Tristan Welch and the hotel’s restaurant, Parker’s Tavern. Or at least that’s what the hotel’s website leads you to believe in describing Welch: “Beneath the elegant surface bubbles an English eccentric. Beneath the technical finesse, a rebellious wit.”
That should come as no surprise, considering Welch was once the head chef for another rebellious wit, Gordon Ramsay, at his Pétrus at the Berkeley (Welch had also once won a Gordon Ramsay Scholarship Award). At Parker’s Tavern (named after the man who once leased the land for grazing, back in the early 1600s), you can pop in for a traditional plum pudding cream tea or stick around for a dinner of nut-brown buttered sole with coastal herbs and shrimp, or a roasted pavé of lamb with a salad or runner beans, roasted tomatoes, and mint, along with an extensive menu of artful twists on the classics. Welch, a Cambridge native, puts a market spin on his dishes, going with the daily flow of fresh local produce.
While he may have come home to Cambridge for Parker’s, Welch began cooking in London with chef Gary Rhodes (television’s Master Chef and Hell’s Kitchen, among others) and Michel Roux, Jr. (Le Gavroche). He went on to the venerable l’Arpège, in Paris, and five-star Glenapp Castle, in Scotland, Launceston Place, in Kensington, and a stint in Mustique at the island’s Cotton House Beach Café.
Like his mentors, Welch has also taken to television, appearing in BBC2’s Great British Menu and BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen and The One Show, along with Good Food Channel’s Market Kitchen.