Butchers and pie makers at a centre of excellence for Welsh food have scooped a massive haul of five gold awards and three silver prizes at a prestigious competition.
Success came at the double for the pork pie from the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre in the Conwy Valley – it took gold for a second year in succession at the Welsh Awards for Excellence in Meat Products.
It was one of eight major awards at the event for the centre – with Bodnant’s 18-year-old butchery apprentice Sam Birchall picking up silver in Young Sausage Maker of the Year for his Pork, Apricot and Aberwen Cheese Sausage.
Bodnant managing director Chris Morton, who revealed that he eats one of the newly honoured pork pies for his lunch every day, hailed the haul of accolades as well deserved recognition for his “brilliant” team of staff.
The Welsh Awards were handed out during a glittering presentation ceremony at the Kinmel Manor Hotel at which 28 of the top retail butchers who entered from right across Wales were represented.
The honours to Bodnant included five gold awards, for Rack of Welsh Lamb stuffed with rosemary and bara brith, Pork Pie, Huntsman’s Pie and Meat and Potato Pie plus a Welsh Black Beef Burger – due to be officially launched at the centre’s Bangers and Beer Festival over the bank holiday weekend on May 2-4.
Completely new to the foodie world, the pioneering burger is a mouth-watering combination of the locally reared prime Welsh Black Beef sold at Bodnant and the Welsh Black Beer brewed just further along the Conwy Valley in Llandudno by Great Orme Brewery.
Bodnant’s silver awards tally of three included Traditional Pork Sausage, plus Pork and Leek Sausage as well as Sam’s Young Sausage Maker of the Year Birchall award.
Chris said: “The champagne corks are popping again at the centre to celebrate this latest round of awards, which are a sure sign of our continuing excellence and an independent vote of confidence in the traditional skills of our butchers and bakers.
“I think it’s brilliant when we win honours such as this, which recognise all the dedication and hard work of our team.
“We have an awful lot of highly skilled people at Bodnant and these awards, which are amongst the most respected in the industry, give them the chance to really showcase their talents to a wider audience.
“We’re very lucky to have these people working for us.”
He added: “Our ability to keep on winning awards such as this also has a lot to do with the very close partnership we enjoy with local suppliers and the extremely high quality of meat and other produce which is available to us here in the Conwy Valley.
“There are a growing number of people using Bodnant who now regard us as very much their local shop, which I am delighted about.
“I’ve sampled all the award-winning pies and sausages in the competition and all I can say is that every day for my lunch I eat one of the pork pies lovingly produced for us by our head pieman, Peter Jones.”
Bodnant’s butchery department manager Jason Fraser said: “This is the seal of approval from the whole industry.
“There were something like 250 separate items up for judging and some very tough competition, so I’m over the moon that once again we’ve taken on the very best in Wales and beaten them.
“I’m even more delighted that all this success has come in what were the first major awards we’ve entered since I took on the job at Bodnant quite recently.
“I’m especially pleased to see our new Welsh Black Beef Burger take gold, which isn’t bad for a product which hasn’t even been officially launched yet.”
Bodnant Welsh Food is located in a building dating from the 18th century which has been lovingly restored and includes a farm shop, tea room, restaurant, wine cellar, cookery school and farmhouse accommodation.
The centre had its fanfare opening by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2012.
Bodnant Welsh Food Centre has its own dairy making cheese and ice cream, plus an on-site bakery and butchery, with award-winning pies. There’s also a wine store and tea rooms plus the Hayloft restaurant and farmhouse accommodation.
More details at bodnant-welshfood.co.uk