Ellis Barrie (29), originally from Liverpool, first learnt his craft as a chef at his local community college at the age of 12 where he attended junior cookery courses on Saturdays. In 2005, aged 15, Ellis applied for work experience with Chris Marshall at the two-AA rosette Raddison Blu Filini in Liverpool City. Shortly after, he was offered a part-time role at the hotel which he took on after school. Barrie than went on to join Marshall at the Panoramic 34 also in Liverpool where he learnt many of his cooking principles.
After one year, Ellis decided he wanted to travel and moved to Australia. While over there, he worked on a farm picking fruit and vegetables and learnt more about food provenance – knowledge that has come to good use at The Marram Grass. In 2009 he returned back to learn that his father had purchased a caravan site on the island across the Menai Strait in Newborough, Anglesey and asked Ellis and his brother Liam to run the on-site café which had previously been a chicken shed.
In 2011 Ellis and Liam re-launched the 40-cover café as The Marram Grass and concentrated on building up a menu serving hearty, rustic dishes while making the most of local ingredients. For the first four years they were running a successful café during the day with frequent supperclubs in the evening and soon after opened the restaurant for dinner service due to popular demand.
Accolades soon followed, and in 2013 the Marram Grass won ‘Best Bistro/Brasserie of the Year’ at the Anglesey Tourism Awards and by 2015 they had captured the attention of the Waitrose Good Food Guide, being awarded 4/10 in the latest edition and in May 2018, the restaurant was awarded 2 AA Rosettes. In 2016 Ellis was presented with a coveted Acorn award by the Caterer Magazine as was he brother, Liam, the following year. The Marram Grass have also had national praise from critics including Tim Hayward (FT Magazine) in 2015 and Marina O’Loughlin (The Guardian) in 2016 where she referred to one of the dishes as ‘extraordinary’. Ellis appeared on this year’s Great British Menu where his ‘Bun in the Oven’ fish dish went through to the banquet. In 2014, the late Sir Terry Wogan visited the duo for a BBC 2 series called ‘Terry and Mason’s Great Food Trip’ and last year the restaurant appeared on Michel Roux Jr’s Hidden Restaurants on Channel 4. The Marram Grass also featured on Julia Bradbury’s programme, ‘Best Walks With A View’ in 2016.
The brothers rear pigs and chickens in a nearby field and grow a selection of vegetables and herbs in their kitchen garden. They’ve recently started making their own sausages which they sell in their on-site gift shop.
Ellis and his brother Liam will opened their second restaurant in Liverpool next year.