Owen Morgan is co-owner, with his brother Tom, of the hugely successful 44 Group, a Spanish restaurant group in South Wales. Since its inception in 2002, the Bar 44 tapas y copas brand has built up a loyal customer following and cemented its reputation as one of the UK’s best tapas restaurants for modern Spanish cuisine, dedicated to combining the best regional Spanish produce with seasonal local ingredients. Contemporary twists on dishes that never lose sight of their classic origins. The group consists of 4 Bar 44 venues focusing on tapas and sherry, as well as the Spanish restaurant Asador 44, bringing a modern take on traditional Northern Spanish cookery over fire.
Owen has the honour of being crowned UK restaurant personality of the year at February’s annual Imbibe awards. Previous winners include Heston Blumenthal and the Galvins.
Owen was runner up in the Harpers Spanish wine awards in 2016 for personality of the year due to his dedication to champion Spanish wines in the UK. He has been featured in Imbibe magazine and taken part in judging the annual sommelier wine awards that they host. He was also recently included as one of the top 100 influencers in the UK restaurant and bar trade, and sat on the judging panel for the inaugural world sherry awards this year.
Owen is besotted by his love of sherry wines and the Jerez and Cádiz region of Andalucia. He is a certified international Sherry educator. Awarded his Sherry certification by the Consejo Regulador D.O Jerez in 2013, Owen is one of only 180 or so certified Sherry educators in the world and the first in Wales. He regularly runs Sherry education workshops for customers of Bar 44 as well as for local community groups, media and trade and regularly contributes Sherry articles to the Welsh and National UK media. He very much enjoys being a brand ambassador for leading bodega Bodegas Baron, having been instrumental in setting up a UK import partner for the Sanlucar based manzanilla specialist.
Owen has personally curated the sherries, wines, cavas, spirits and vermut on the Bar 44 drinks lists, as well as all of the regional Spanish and Welsh produce used in its three kitchens. Much of his time is spent pairing Sherries with the Bar’s signature tapas dishes to champion the drink in a big way. He regularly spends time in the ‘Sherry country’ regions of Jerez and Cadiz in Andalucía, where he visits Bodegas to source the very best the region has to offer for Bar 44 customers. Owen also frequents leading artisan food producers across Spain to immerse himself in their family history and production methods in order to ensure that the very best quality and knowledge is transferred back to his kitchen teams and customers. Last year he decided to bring a food and drink group to Wales for the first time for 3 nights to enjoy a taste of Spain tour in the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff, championing bar 44 and its staff, their suppliers and producers.
His love of traditional and modern Spanish cuisine stems from childhood family holidays to Spain, where he first experienced authentic Spanish food – particularly the fish and spiced dishes of Southern Andalucía. He then began experimenting in the kitchen as a teenager, preparing family meals. After University, Owen went on to acquire his first venue with his brother Tom, on the high street of their quaint market home town of Cowbridge in South Wales. For many years they were both the head chefs in the kitchen, as well as the being the sole front of house managers, waiters, bartenders and cleaners (!), juggling long days and nights but fuelled by the passion of providing top quality Spanish produce to people in an area that hadn’t seen such things before. This time was hard, enjoyable, eventful and invaluable. It gave them a decade at the coalface to hone and develop their skills, as well as the style of offering, and having a wonderful time looking after a loyal and growing customer base. Owen has been fortunate to link up with great restaurateurs and chefs throughout the UK and Spain during this time, developing lasting relationships forged through the common passion for Spain’s food, drink and culture.
Last year Asador 44 was launched, with the help of the bar 44 team and an exciting new team of talent. Asador 44 is Wales and the West’s first Northern Spanish asador, specialising in cooking impeccably sourced Spanish and local produce over wood fire. Personally sourced Galician blond as well as ex dairy cattle feature, alongside milk fed Segovian lamb and suckling pig, daily market fish, a cheese room, and one of the cities only sommeliers, focusing on a large natural and biodynamic wine list featuring state of the art preservation equipment. As many would come to expect, Asador 44 is their own unique and modern take on a traditional Spanish restaurant.