Tommy Heaney is Head Chef and owner of Heaneys Cardiff, his eponymous restaurant that opened in 2018. Born in a small town just outside of Belfast called Crumlin, Tommy’s first experiences within the kitchen was in America, where he started washing dishes over the school summer holidays at his uncle’s restaurant, Legends, in Maryland. Drawn to the competitive yet creative nature of the kitchen, Tommy soon found himself running the pass and leaving with a clear ambition to become Head Chef as fast as possible. Self-taught Tommy quickly achieved this, and with his mission accomplished he continued to visit his uncle in the US, honing his skills until he was ready to leave school.
Travelling throughout the US cooking in kitchens instead of enrolling in catering college, meant that Tommy gained invaluable, hands-on knowledge, that put him in good stead for the rest of his culinary career. Returning to the UK at the age of 18, Tommy landed a job with Chef Tony Hughes, who taught Tommy a repertoire of classic culinary techniques, adding to his already vast amount of self-study. Feeling confident about his cooking, Tommy was set for his next adventure which took him to Australia where he worked in award-winning restaurants and to Thailand where he discovered even more dishes and totally new flavours. Craving to put all of his passion into practice, Tommy headed to London and began working with Richard Corrigan until he realised that despite the vibrant restaurant scene, he couldn’t afford to live in London.
Coinciding with the start of a new family, Tommy moved out of London and soon found himself running Restaurant Tommy Heaney at The Great House in Bridgend. It was here that Tommy was able to combine his learnings and influence from the people that he had worked with to create his own signature style. Simple, pared-back, contemporary and technically accomplished with a focus on minimal waste of the ingredients he uses, Restaurant Tommy Heaney was where Tommy developed his creative flair. Four years at The Great House, Tommy took full advantage of his creative freedom, developed his own menu and bettered his cooking via various self-initiated stages in London’s leading kitchens including Dabbous and Le Champignon Sauvage. Rave reviews followed and an invitation to appear on BBC’s Great British Menu (2018) confirmed Tommy’s reputation as one of the UK’s most exciting culinary talents.
With such a great response and huge local support, Tommy decided that he wanted to play a larger role in the Welsh restaurant scene. With his own life savings, no investment support and a popular Kickstarter campaign, the eponymous restaurant, Heaneys, opened in October 2018 – Tommy’s first solo venture – taking residence in the former site of Arbennig Restaurant after a sell-out six week pop up on the site. The 50-seater restaurant, Heaneys is centred on seasonal tasting menus, making the most of what’s in season and available from his trusted suppliers.
Tommy has most recently launched Uisce (pronounced ish-ka), an oyster and wine bar located right next door to Heaneys. This new concept gives Tommy the opportunity to incorporate more of his heritage and worldly adventures. The future looks bright for Tommy Heaney – his real journey starts here.