UK award for Bodnant puts Conwy Valley on Britain’s quality food map

LANDING a prestigious UK award has helped put Bodnant Welsh Food and North Wales on Britain’s quality food map, says its proud managing director.

Chris Morton and the rest of his team at the food centre of excellence in the Conwy Valley are celebrating after being chosen as a Rising Star in the 2014 FARMA Awards.

Bodnant is also in the running for another major award as a finalist in the Local Food category at the Countryside Alliance Awards at the Senedd in Cardiff on March 25.

FARMA (National Farmers Retail and Markets Association) is a co-operative of farmers, producers selling on a local scale and markets. Operating across the whole of the UK, it is the largest organisation of its type in the world.

The FARMA Awards, now in their 11th successful year, aim to single out some of the UK’s top farm shops.

The Rising Star Award, which are in the special gift of judges, pick out the “ones to watch” in the future – businesses which have been commended by the judges for all they have achieved and the example they have set to the farm retail sector.

Bodnant Welsh Food is located in a building dating from the 18th century which has been lovingly restored and includes a farm shop, a wine shop, tea room, restaurant, cookery school and farmhouse accommodation.

As it opened only in the summer of 2012 by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, this was the first time that Bodnant Welsh Food had been able to enter the FARMA Awards.

The glittering ceremony was held at the Chesford Grange Hotel in Warwickshire, close to where FARMA was holding its annual conference and trade show at the National Agricultural Centre in Stoneleigh.

Bodnant managing director Chris Morton was there with colleagues Gwyndaf Pritchard, the centre’s general manager, and director Maurice McMenemy to hear Bodnant announced as one of a trio of Rising Stars, along with farm shops from Aberdeenshire and Yorkshire.

With the golden Rising Stars trophy now taking pride of place at Bodnant, Chris said: “FARMA includes over 400 farm shops, farmers markets and wholesale food producers from right across the UK, many of which entered this year’s awards, so we were in some pretty rarified company and up against some long-standing and highly respected enterprises.

“Before making their decisions the awards judges went around Britain looking at a wide range of different businesses and as a result they nominated three – including Bodnant – as Rising Stars.

“To win this award is therefore a memorable achievement and makes us all extremely proud.

“However, the win is not only recognition of what we’ve managed to do at Bodnant over the past couple of years but it also helps put north Wales even more firmly on Britain’s quality food map, so it’s something this area and the whole region can be proud of.

“Although Bodnant Welsh Food is located in a very attractive building, we didn’t win this award because of the building but because of the quality and provenance of the food we sell.

“We are showcasing the best of north Wales and we take a lot of pride in what we are doing.”

In announcing the win, Mike Blee one of the awards judges said: “Bodnant Welsh Food is already a unique destination – it is a truly impressive place.”

The day after their historic win, the Bodnant team were at the FARMA trade show in the National Agricultural Centre exhibiting two of their own famous cheeses – the white Aberwen and the red Abergoch.

Aberwen is already a double award winner in its own right, having taken bronze medals in last year’s British Cheese Awards and World Cheese Awards.

Gwyndaf Pritchard added: “Aberwen and Abergoch created a lot of interest at the trade show and were actually both chosen to be on the menu at the awards dinner the previous evening, so the whole FARMA experience was a very special one for Bodnant.”

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