Friday, 20 April 2012

Filini, Radisson Blu Cardiff and why I never became a chef

Chef Gorro 18 years ago

From a young age I wanted to be a chef. As I grew older and more apathetic I revised my career aspirations to that of head chocolate taster at Cadbury’s. In the end I didn’t pursue either of these career paths and working in Subway and tasting vast quantities of canned fish at John West was the closest I’ve been to either job.  

Chef Mattias Wenngren, his kitchen at Filini and a plate of antipasti
Thoughts of what it would be like to be a chef have recently been close to mind as I’ve been reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. Although it’s rumoured many of his anecdotes are slightly embellished you still get the impression that the world of the professional kitchen is not for the faint hearted. Reading about the relentless hours, machismo culture, off the wall individuals and shady business practices has reassured me that I definitely made the right choice in not becoming a chef. Although I still haven’t ruled out head chocolate taster for Cadbury’s.

King prawns, crab cakes, fillet steak and truffle arancini
However, I’ve had to recalibrate my thoughts on life in the professional kitchen since attending a tasting in the kitchen of Filini at the Radisson Blu hotel. From meeting Executive chef Mattias Wenngren it was clear the passion he felt for his chosen career and for the food he cooks. Over the course of the evening it was great to hear his enthusiasm for the meal he had prepared for us first hand (something often lost in translation by waiting staff). He also regaled us with various anecdotes of his life as a chef.

Ricotta Ravioli with a bisque sauce and parmesan foam
Although Mattias acknowledged that he conforms to the chef’s stereotype of having a short fuse, he was adamant that ruling a kitchen with fear is not the path to a successful kitchen. In fact, in the brief time we spent in his kitchen it seemed rather tranquil. Chefs prepared their dishes in peace without any of the swearing, sweating or knife throwing I was hoping I might witness.

Seabass with rosemary and lemon
More important than any insight into kitchen life I gained from the evening was the quality of the food I ate. Chef Wenngren prepared for us some pretty delicious food, showcasing the kind of dishes he likes to serve at Filini. By the end of the evening I was ready to explode (until I got home and ate an Easter egg). 

I’ve reviewed Filini previously but I would definitely give it a second look having met Chef Wenngren and sampled some more of his food.

Sardinian fregola with salsicca and pecorino cream
Lamb shanks with rosemary

Dessert selection - tiramisu, panna cotta and chocolate mousse
I was invited as a guest of Filini.

The Details:
Filini, Radisson Blu, Bute Terrace, Cardiff, CF10 2FL,
Telephone: 02920454777,


  1. You should read Orwell's 'Down and Out in Paris and London' for a bit of kitchen action... Nowt like the above, obvs

  2. I always fantasise about being a chef as well but I know enough to know that the reality is far different to my dreams! The food looks superb at Filini. Great post.

    1. @Chris - I deleted my previous response to your comment. I was getting a bit trigger happy deleting spam comments.

      @Cara - Glad you like the post. I occasionally get carried away thinking I could open Cardiff's answer to MeatLiquor or Pitt Cue. Then I remind myself I'd have to work every Friday & Saturday night until the end of time (amongst umpteen other reasons).