A teenager bidding to win a culinary crown has been getting top tips from a Welsh centre of excellence’s king of the kitchen.
Niamh Davies will be cooking up with Aberwen cheese and other North Wales produce when she takes part in a young chef contest on February 20.
Helping the Ysgol Eirias pupil prepare is Dai Chef from Bodnant Welsh Food centre – who was judge with his daughter Megan at the first round of the Rotary Club Young Chef of the Year competition.
Dai agreed to mentor 13-year-old Niamh, from Colwyn Heights, as she tackles the next stage, the district final at Coleg Cambria in Wrexham. If she’s successful, she could be heading for a place at April’s national final.
He said: “Niamh is really an outstanding cook, and I was most impressed by her approach to her dishes.
“She’s been to Bodnant to see how we cook and to join the Junior Academy in the cookery school, plus I’ve been to the school to take her through the menu for the contest.
“At school and at Bodnant Niamh has been learning about the importance of using locally produced fresh food, and I think she has the skills and approach to go a long way in the culinary world.”
Niamh, who is considering a professional career in catering after she leaves school, says she’s a keen cook at home – and has learnt a lot from her mum as well picking up tips from TV shows such as Masterchef and the Great British Bake-off.
“Dai has been very inspiring and I have found his advice, such as how to roll pasta, really helpful,” she said, as she went through making her dish for a fourth time with Dai.
“Originally I was going to do something on a Valentine’s Day theme, but Dai suggested it might be better to use Welsh produce and link it with St David’s Day.
“It was fascinating going to Bodnant, and seeing how they do things in a professional kitchen, with all their equipment.”
The school is hopeful that Niamh, who is the entrant from Rhos on Sea Rotary Club, will take them through to the regional final, said food technology teacher Miss Owens.
“I think the help that Dai is giving is so useful for Niamh – it’s invaluable to be able to work with a professional chef of his standing,” said Miss Owen.
“Though Niamh won £50 with her first place at the local heat, I think getting to work with Dai has meant a lot to her.
“As a cookery teacher, and as a school, we are delighted to be able to work with Bodnant Welsh food centre. I am hoping that it will inspire other pupils to try entering competitions like this.”
The £6m Bodnant Welsh Food Centre at the converted Furnace Farm, Tal-y-cafn, in the Conwy valley, was formally opened by Prince Charles in July 2012 and has seen revenue rise to £2.4m, up 35% from £1.77m in the centre’s first year of trading. It also welcomed 243,000 visitors — up from 214,000 (13.5%) on the previous year.
More than 80 people are employed in the farm shop, wine cellar, tea rooms, Hayloft restaurant and farmhouse accommodation along with the Welsh Bee Centre, while more than 100 artisan food producers are represented at Bodnant.
More details at www.bodnant-welshfood.co.uk or call 01492 651100