A former royal chef and another who worked at the iconic Sydney Opera House are joining forces to champion local produce at a food festival.
Graham Tinsley MBE, who has tickled the taste buds of world leaders, the Queen and Prince Charles on numerous occasions, will be showcasing local talent as well as the best of Welsh foodstuffs when he returns to Llangollen Food Festival with his young protégé Harri Williams.
Graham, currently executive head chef at the prestigious Carden Park in Cheshire, has recently appointed 26-year-old Harri as his new head chef, cementing a 13-year long mentorship which began when Harri took on an apprenticeship with the culinary maestro at the age of 15.
History has now gone full circle and Harri has returned to the hotel in which he learnt his craft with a wealth of exciting ideas inspired from his travels across Australia.
The former Ysgol Dyffryn Conwy School pupil, who lives in Pandy Tudur, Conwy, and formerly worked as a sous chef in the Sydney Opera House, can’t wait to show off his skills alongside Graham at this year’s food festival that’s being held on Saturday and Sunday, October 13 and 14.
The event is now recognised as one of the top 10 food festivals in the UK.
According to Harry, he can’t wait to show off his skills which have earned him gold medals in world food competitions as part of the Welsh Culinary Team.
He said: “I absolutely love these kinds of events. When you’re in the kitchen of a restaurant you don’t get to see the customer’s reaction to your food, may be just a little feedback if you’re lucky.”
Graham, 58, from Abergele, will be leading a trio of culinary geniuses at a series of crowd-pulling cookery demonstrations at this year’s festival, which will be staged at Llangollen Pavilion.
Alongside Harri, Graham is hoping to bring another member of the North Wales Culinary Guild, which he heads up.
Graham has been involved in the festival for the past 10 years and is looking forward to stir up the excitement once again with a host of local food treasures.
“This year I’ll be bringing two young chefs along with me this year who between them have many, many years of international competitions behind them,” he said.
“It’s all about supporting the local producers too so If I come across a new oil, cider or gin I’ll make sure I communicate that back to the audience.”
In his roles as vice-captain, captain and manager of the Welsh Culinary Team over the years, Graham was invited to 10 Downing Street on many occasions to prepare memorable St David’s Day meals.
Nurturing the talents of young chefs and encouraging them to excel is very important to him but he says the learning takes place on both sides.
“We launched the guild about four or five years ago and it was just about local chefs meeting up and getting together in a kitchen,” said Graham, who was awarded the MBE by the Queen for his services to the food industry in 2006 and was once asked to bake popstar Celion Dion’s birthday cake,
Harri, who grew up on the family cattle farm in Pandy Tudur which overlooks Snowdonia, was previously head chef at the Lion & Pheasant Hotel in Shrewsbury where he earned two AA rosettes before landing his dream job at Carden Park.
“My ambition was to become a head chef by the time I was 28 and I did it at 24 so I get there faster than I expected,” he said.
“I’ve travelled a bit and I don’t really feel like my style can be condensed into one area. I like to cook modern British, French, Asian, you name it. I’m versatile and a menu needs to be too.
“My mum owns a baking company and so we’ve always gone to the Llangollen Food Festival. I come along every year but now I’ll be coming along in a professional capacity and showcasing the best of Wales produce which is exciting.
“I don’t usually get nervous about these things any more, I’m just looking forward to being back.”
Llangollen Food Festival committee member Phil Davies said: “We are so lucky that North Wales is a hotbed of culinary talent and I am sure that Graham and Harri will put on a great show at this year’s festival.
“In addition to many favourites, we have lots of new food producers wanting to come this year.
“The location of the Pavilion is absolutely spectacular – I can’t imagine that any other food festival in the UK has a more beautiful setting.
“It’s also brilliant news for the local economy. If you buy from a local producer, all that money is recycled through the local economy and that sustains employment in our rural areas.”
For more information about Llangollen Food Festival go to www.llangollenfoodfestival.com