Introducing: The Pattyman
It’s no secret that Cardiff is culturally rich, boasting a variety of restaurants catering to the most diverse tastes. However, one of Cardiff’s best kept secrets is the man responsible for uniting traditional Jamaican and Welsh foods in a way that no one else has. Leroy Williams, AKA The Pattyman, specialises in a cultural fusion of delicious cakes and patties that have their ‘roots in Jamaica but produced in Wales.’
We meet Leroy on a cold November morning and, like most Welsh folk in early Winter, we immediately comment on the weather, how unexpectedly cold it is, and speculate about the potential for snow. Hunkering down in a warm corner of Costa and, over the temporary ambience of a fire alarm going off owing to some burnt toast, the conversation moves easily from the weather to a deeper level. Leroy recounts how it was growing up in Cardiff and the invaluable lessons he learnt from his Father — “My Dad was Jamaican, and my Mum was Welsh. Dad taught me from the beginning that I would have to work hard to be successful and that’s stayed with me throughout my life.”
Work hard is exactly what Leroy has done from day one. Born three months premature, he overcame health problems that threatened to leave him unable to walk by the time he reached secondary school age. “I was taken out of school for a year and I was in a wheelchair. When I went back, I went to a school that catered for children with additional needs — Ysgol Erw Delyn — because of my health issues. I was still in a wheelchair at this point, and they said that I may never be able to walk again. There was a hydrotherapy pool, though, and I had some really good teachers. I made myself learn to walk again and, eventually, I went back to St. Cyres school.”
We slowly learn that’s just who Leroy is — determined to succeed and never lets ‘no’ be a final answer to his ambitions. He exudes positivity and laughs easily. From high school to college and beyond, he’s since trained in a variety of careers; owning a bakery, training as a chef, and even obtaining a Health and Social Care degree along the way. He’s done a lot with his life so far but one thing that’s remained consistent is his love of cooking.
Despite only starting in May 2021, The Pattyman has taken off rapidly and garnered excellent reviews from all who have tasted the delectable delights. When asked about the patties, he exclaims “you’ve never had a patty!?”, whilst holding his head in his hands and chuckling. He explains “it’s like a pasty, but not puff pastry. It’s filled with meat and spices. No one is really selling them in Cardiff. You have to go outside of Wales — London, Bristol, those sort of places — and, if you do find them in supermarkets, they’re ordered in.”
I admit that when we were told that rum-infused Welsh cakes were in circulation, as well as the patties, we had to know more. So, with hot coffees in hand, we chat to Leroy about food, family, business, and life…
CCHA: So, your Dad was Jamaican and your Mum was Welsh…?
Leroy: Yes, my Father came over on the Windrush in the late 50s with his brother and sister. They came to Birmingham first, but my Uncle came down to Wales to have a look because they weren’t too happy in Birmingham. He loved Wales, and brought my Father and his Sister down. My Uncle ended up becoming an engineer, my Auntie was a nurse in the Hamadryad, and my Father became one of the best plasterers in Cardiff. My Auntie met my Mother, who then met my Father at a dance…and hence the history there.
At a very young age, my Father taught and instilled in us that we had to fight for everything. Hold your head up, always look the other way, but fight for everything. I’ve always been brought up with that ethos and, believe me, over the years I’ve needed it.
I’ve had adversities from a young age, fought through them. I ended up going to college and studying, which I never expected to do. I’m a qualified chef, a qualified baker, I’ve worked in restaurants, hotels, and ships, and all sorts! I had my own bakery at one time…
You know, life throws things up at you and it knocks you back, but you’ve got to keep coming back. At one point, I actually got out of catering for 14 years and I taxi drove for a while. But, Covid came along and I had to stop. My wife, my rock — Andrea — is a nurse and did not want me going back to driving, and the health implications that it risked. Sadly, it brought an end to that career. It put the blocks on everything, really.
Unfortunately, this January I lost my Dad. My wife was very supportive during this time, and she pushed me to try creating my Jamaican patties. I’m so thankful to my family who have supported me endlessly since starting this, and I’m grateful for the future support I’ll get from them, too. To be honest, it had always been on my mind to do, and was always a passion of mine. I’ve always wanted to make my Dad proud, so I thought I’d do a fusion of Welsh food and Jamaican food. I decided to go for the Patties and Pattycakes…And now we even have a Jamaican BBQ sauce made by The Pattyman! Fingers crossed, we’re gonna take off with it.
What was the tipping point where you just thought ‘right, I”m going to start this business and see where it goes’?
I was in a rut. I’d lost my Dad, and it really knocked me. I needed to get out of it. I started cooking just for family and friends, as something to get my head out of [the rut.] It’s just grown from that. We mainly sell on Instagram at the moment — my wife has set up my Facebook page and is running it all. The feedback has been brilliant, some of the comments are unbelievable. I can’t believe people are enjoying them so much!
You said that you grew up in Cathays — what are some of your favourite memories growing up, and the community you had there?
Back in those days, you knew everyone. In my street, there was only around 4 black families, but we knew everyone. We knew all the Jamaican people in the area and they would come around once a month. They’d gather in the front room, and have rum, and food, and dance. You always knew everyone, you always knew what was going on, you were always in and out of everyone’s houses. It was a really good community.
How do you think that has shaped the person you are, and your business?
Growing up then, you had to fight for things. You had the attitude, I think, instilled in you. Business wise – yeah, you can give up…or you can try again. Just keep trying. Whatever knocks you back — learn from it, take something from it, and come back stronger. Don’t let anyone hold you back. You want something? It’s out there!
We think the business is amazing and we’re enamoured with this fusion of Jamaican and Welsh food!
Yeah, I’m called the Pattyman but, if I continue to grow the business, it might be a different company name and I’ve already thought of it…We’re just waiting!
So, what has been the most popular product?
Well, first off I was just doing the patties. It was just beef patties as that was all I was able to do at first. Now it’s grown to different flavours, and I do my Pattycakes and the True Authentic Jamaican Jerk Marinade and Jamaican BBQ Sauce. They’re taking over! The Jamaican BBQ sauce is just unbelievable on it’s own. There’s loads of sauces out there, but not like this…and the Pattycakes are totally unique. Once you taste them — they’re like Pringles…Once you start, you can’t stop!
I love it! What are your hopes for the business in a few years time?
I never dreamed of being here now. So, five years time? I don’t know! The ideal thing would be to see Pattyman shops or products in supermarkets. What would be amazing would be a franchise — like a McDonalds, but all Jamaican. A Patty Donalds…McPatty! You can get your jerk chicken, rice, peas, and coleslaw…all your little bits on the side.
Starting the business in May 2021 is still fairly recent but what’ been the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far?
The biggest lesson is knowing and learning how to go with your gut and who to trust. That’s the biggest one. That’s business! Trust your gut.
Finally – what advice would you give someone who wants to start their own business?
Go for it! Just do it. Don’t be afraid.
If you’re thinking of a gift idea this Christmas, want to shop local, and expand your tastebuds to the wonder of Jamaican-Welsh goods, follow Leroy’s journey and purchase directly via social media:
Order from Sheffs
The Pattyman Menu
Beef / Beef & Cheese / Jerk Chicken / Vegetarian: £2.50 each or 5 for £10;
Rum infused Welshcakes: 6 for £3.50;
Jamaican Spicy BBQ Sauce: £3.99
Authentic Jamaican Jerk Marinade: £3.99
(Prices quoted are correct at time of publishing but may be subject to change in the future.)