Bodnant Welsh Food in the Conwy Valley is top of the shops in the UK

CHAMPAGNE corks have been popping at a centre of excellence for Welsh food after it was named as the best Farm Shop in Britain.

Bodnant Welsh Food in the Conwy Valley has been handed the coveted accolade by the influential BBC Good Food magazine.

The shop was named as the UK’s number one less than two years after it opened for business, taking the title in the face of stiff competition from much more established farm shops trading across Wales, Scotland and England.

Bodnant is singled out for the highest praise in the latest edition of the magazine – known as one of the food industry’s bibles – which includes a feature on the top ten farm shops researched and written by its acclaimed local and seasonal food editor Clare Hargreaves.

The introduction to the two-page article makes it plain that farm shops are well past the days of being just makeshift sheds selling their own-reared meat and local vegetables and are rapidly becoming destinations in their own right offering a wide range of artisan stock alongside restaurants and cookery schools.

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 shop, cookery school and farmhouse accommodation.

The centre had its fanfare opening by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2012.

Industry guru Clare Hargreaves was impressed by the artisan-produced food which could be bought in the shop or eaten in the tea room or the Hayloft restaurant.

She also praised the “deliciously dense and crumbly” Aberwen cheese made with milk from a neighbouring farm.

Clare added: “Ice cream and bread are also produced on site, plus Furnace Farm’s own Welsh lamb.

“There’s a cookery school upstairs and B&B accommodation, so you can make a weekend of your visit.”

Bodnant Welsh Food Managing Director Chris Morton said: “We are only just coming to the end of our second year of operation so to win such an important accolade as Number One Farm Shop in Britain is just amazing.

“It’s a testimony to Bodnant’s owners, Michael and Caroline McClaren, who saw the need for a food centre of excellence in North Wales to help local artisan producers promote their products on a wider scale.

“If you look at the farm shops which have come below us in the top ten list, some of them are extremely well established and have been around for a decade or more and have become household names, so it’s just mind-blowing that we have been chosen as number one against such formidable competition.”

Chris added: “Despite this fantastic achievement there will be no resting on our laurels.

“We know how much better we can be and this is a spur to us to grow even further in the future.

“Being chosen as number one is good for our staff and has given them a real gee-up. It’s also good for our suppliers who should be very proud of what they have done in ensuring we have such first class products. It’s very much a team effort.”

The team at Bodnant are no strangers to being in the honours.

Just a few months ago the centre was named as a Rising Star at the UK FARMA Awards.

More recently Bodnant was voted champion pie-makers and won a total of 15 major prizes in the Welsh Awards for Excellence in Meat Products handed out at Kinmel Hall, near Abergele.

They beat 270 other contestants from around Wales to be named Welsh Champions in the Hot Eating Pie category.

Judges gave 99 out of a possible 100 to their Stilton and Steak Pie and their Pork Pie.

Headed up by Bodnant’s master butcher Tony Gibson, the team also picked up a further 13 awards.

They took away Gold Awards for their Bodnant Lamb Cushions, Steak Melt Burgers, Pork and Pear Burgers, Chilli Bomb, Huntsman’s Pie and Pork, Wholegrain Mustard and Black Pudding Pie.

In addition, they won Silver Awards for the Bodnant Traditional Pork Sausage and the Lamb and Mint Burger.

If that wasn’t enough, the team also took Bronze Awards for the Bodnant Pork, Aberwen and Apricot Sausage and the latest addition to the sausage range – the Bodnant PLG Sausage.

Another accolade came when the centre was runner up in the Great British Food Produce Awards for its Rib eye steak.

For more information about Bodnant Welsh Food, go to:

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