Sam Morgan - Restauranteur in South Wales
Long time Salt-Water fan Sam Morgan lives and works in the beautiful Vale of Glamorgan in South Wales. Half Welsh, half Lebanese she has always been passionate about travel, food and exploring new cultures. After completing her MSC in Economics at QMW in East London she remained in the capital and started her career in Marketing. But soon enough, the green grass of home was calling and she returned to Wales to start a family. A #girlboss before it was even a thing, Sam opened her boutique restaurant Arboreal (dictionary definition 'relating to or resembling a tree') in 2011. Having never previously worked in the food industry they took home the ‘Best Restaurant’ prize the following year at the Cardiff Life Awards. Go Sam! After many years of achieving Michelin guide status the wood-oven restaurant is driven by its rustic, seasonal style where simplicity and quality is key. Arboreal also has a wonderful allotment out back where they grow herbs and cut flowers throughout the British seasons.
She lives near the sea with her husband, three children, their dog and two cats.
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
I grew up in South Wales, in the lovely seaside city of Swansea. Now we live in St.Donats which isn't too far from home, just a little further around the coast.
WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY?
Probably the first memory that comes to mind is my obsession with red wellies dancing around in my parent's garden always intrigued by the constant moving of clouds in the sky.
HOW DID YOU DISCOVER SALT-WATER?
I first spotted them online about 12 years ago, just as internet shopping was becoming a large part of our everyday lives. I was attracted to the range of colours but my first purchase was the practical Navy Salt-Water Originals soon followed by the Red, Black and Tan. They have become a summer staple in my working mums wardrobe. The kids live in them too.
DESCRIBE YOUR HOME
Whites, greys and soothing tones. I love a space that reflects total calm, leafy plants and all sorts of textures. Our house combines a lot of old with new. Interiors are a passion of mine so you’ll always find copies of Elle Decoration everywhere and much of my free time is spent late at night trying to catch up on Interiors blogs and Instagram feeds.
WHAT IS A TYPICAL WORK DAY FOR YOU?
It varies from crazy busy days on my feet running around the restaurant to days at home catching up on mounds of paperwork. No two days are the same. One thing that remains constant though is my huge addiction to coffee. Coffee is the one thing I cannot live without.
WHAT DO YOU EAT FOR BREAKFAST?
On a perfect breakfast morning it would either be baked eggs with avocado and spinach or homemade granola with yogurt, berries and honey. Some days however, you will find me running out of Waitrose with an iced bun in hand!
WHO DO YOU MOST ADMIRE AND WHY?
I admire all working women whether they run their own small businesses or work full or part-time. They are all wonderful and incredibly talented at multi tasking! Between school runs, food shops, laundry and supporting the family, they achieve so much in a day. I want to say Well done ladies!
WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT?
Raising my family.
It’s very hard to know and understand the rights and wrongs of bringing up your children; sometimes it feels natural and other times it feels forced. Having a loving family around me makes me very proud (it’s not all the time I can assure you). But I really do try to cherish all our special family moments as time keeps passing by very quickly and we’re always trying to achieve the perfect work and family balance.
WHAT ARE THE FOOD TRENDS TO LOOK OUT FOR IN 2018?
Our food trend is cooking with wood. We take amazing veggies and meats, use rubs and spices to create great flavours and finish all our food in our wood oven. You choose your meats, rubs, sides and then select from a range of homemade dipping sauces.
We have also been trying out some water bath cooking with our free range chicken using Sous Vide (French for “under vacuum”). This style allows us to infuse amazing flavours into our chicken using an airtight pouch that enables us not to overcook our food. We then finish the chickens in the wood-oven. Delicious!
DO YOU HAVE AN EASY, GO-TO FAMILY MEAL THAT YOU CAN SHARE WITH US?
Yes! It’s the Delia Smith left over chicken curry recipe. My kids seem to love this every Saturday and it’s so easy. I’m inspired by so many cook books, so many recipes, but a few of my favourites are Eat Happy by Melissa Helmsley, River Cafe 30, and one to look out for is Between Harlem and Heaven by JJ Johnson and Alexandra Smalls.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE WHO IS THINKING OF GOING INTO THE RESTAURANT BUSINESS?
Having any business is a massive commitment, but a restaurant really is a labour of love. The hours are long and the customer focus aspect is huge. If you feel totally passionate about food and giving endless hours of your time...it’s definitely the right move. My move was more of a gamble looking back as we had to learn a totally new trade but the journey has been really fantastic and something that has changed me as a person forever!
You can follow Arboreal on Instagram @arboreal_kitchen
Or better still, if you're ever in the Vale of Glamorgan, pop in and say hi!