A CELEBRITY chef who wowed opera legend Luciano Pavarotti is heading for Las Vegas to sing the praises of Welsh food.
Dai Chef is betting on a brilliant reaction when he showcases the very best in our gastronomic delights to an audience of 150 people in the US gambling and entertainment mecca.
Recently appointed to his “dream job” as the resident chef in the Hayloft Restaurant at Bodnant Welsh Food in the Conwy Valley, Dai Davies – known as Dai Chef – is an official ambassador for Welsh food.
And it’s in this role that he has been invited to head a special event bringing a taste of Britain and Wales to Vegas.
Dai explained: “I’ve been asked to over to Las Vegas to lead the event showing off the best of British food to America.
“It’s going to be staged at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, which is right on the famous Strip, and there will be around 150 people in the audience who are all very influential and involved with the travel trade.
“That means the event will be the perfect opportunity to get the message across about the marvellous food we have here.
“I know it’s Las Vegas but I don’t think it’s any gamble at all going over there to show them what’s great about British and Welsh food – with the ingredients I’ll be using – some from Bodnant – it’ll be a sure-fire certainty and I reckon I’ll slot in very well!
“I’m extremely proud to have been chosen to represent Britain and I will be the main pivot of the whole thing which will last for six to eight hours.
“I’ll be doing a food preparation demonstration and – just like I do at big food events at home like the Hamper Llangollen food festival in October – I’ll work on camera while close-pictures of me working are shown on a big screen.
“There will be a dozen other head chefs from hotels allover Las Vegas working at preparation stations dotted around the big main room and the idea is for them to replicate what I’m doing for groups of people gathered around them.
“The important thing is that everyone will get to sample the dishes we prepare afterwards.”
Dai added: “I’m still working on exactly what I’ll be showcasing but I’m already sure it will be something that provides the perfect taste of the very best of Britain, Wales and Bodnant too.
“That’s because I’ll be taking with me to Vegas as much produce from Bodnant as is practicablle on a 12-hour transatlantic flight.
“I think I’ll definitely be starting with a fresh pineapple carved in the shape of a Welsh daffodil on a base of our Welsh cheeses, including Aberwen one of the smoked cheeses from Bodnant.
“My main dish will be either a delicious cut of Welsh lamb or black beef served with mushrooms and flamed with Welsh whisky.
“I’ll round the whole thing off with a yoghurt laced with Welsh vodka, which should really set American taste buds tingling.
“I’ve done cookery demonstrations for many years across Wales, Britain and Europe, including all the big food festivals in Belgium, France and Germany, but this will be the first time I’ve done anything like this in the States but I’m very proud to be taking a taste of my country to Las Vegas.”
Managing Director of Bodnant Chris Morton said: “It’s a great testimony to Dai as an individual and to North Wales food preparation in general that he has been selected to head such a prestigious event.
“It’s an honour that’s well deserved and will help cement the position of North Wales on the world’s culinary map.”
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, cookery school and farmhouse accommodation.
The centre was officially opened by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2012.
Dai was born and raised in Aberystwyth and trained at a culinary college in Haverfordwest.
He gained his initial experience in the kitchens of some of the largest hotels in London’s West End and by the age of 21 he was the youngest chef saucier – in charge of the creation of delicious sauces – at the world famous Carlton Club in St James’s.
Later, Dai became head chef at the White Hart restaurant in Lewes, Sussex, and for a time was the personal chef of the owner of Simpson’s in The Strand, which is based in the same building as the capital’s iconic Savoy Hotel.
He then returned to Aberystwyth to run his own restaurant and during a 16-year period starting in the 1990s was head chef at the Bryn Howel Hotel in Llangollen, which is where in 1995 Dai had the unforgettable experience of cooking for Luciano Pavarotti when the legendary Italian tenor was staying there for his appearance at Llangollen International Eisteddfod.
In 1996, Dai captained the Welsh team at the Culinary Olympics when it won a bronze medal for its culinary skills, and soon afterwards he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship at Glyndwr University in Wrexham.
After spell as a chef trainer – many of his pupils are now working in some of the world’s finest restaurants – Dai took another hands-on role as chef director at the Ship Inn at Red Wharf Bay on Anglesey from where he came to Bodnant.
At the Hamper Llangollen food show last year he launched his new book, Let the Boy Cook, which is a compilation of all his favourite recipes and has a very Welsh feel to it.
For more information about Bodnant Welsh Food, go to: http://www.bodnant-welshfood.co.uk/