Welsh TV chef Bryn Williams to champion local produce in Wrexham

A TV chef who’s cooked for royalty and lives with pop royalty is championing food from Wales.

Bryn Williams , who runs a swish London restaurant, will bring his crusade to Wrexham on Saturday, May 18.

He will be passing on his cooking tips for free when he gives an al fresco demonstration as a guest of Eagles Meadow shopping centre in Wrexham.

Bryn’s visit has been organised to coincide with Wrexham Food and Drink Festival weekend (May 18/19) which raises money for Wrexham’s Nightingale House Hospice.

Eagles Meadow has arranged for Bryn to do a book signing session at the food festival on Llwyn Isaf at 2pm on the Saturday before the demonstration at the shopping centre an hour later.

At a time when aspiring cooks are looking to achieve overnight celebrity status, the lad from Denbigh has grafted 15 years in the kitchen and learned his craft at the feet of the masters to reach the pinnacle of his profession.

In 1997 he began work under Marco Pierre White at The Criterion, went on to work under Michel Roux Jnr at Le Gavroche for three years.

He  went on to be Senior-Sous at The Orrery for four years and then moved to open Galvin at Windows with Chris Galvin, before opening Odette’s in Primrose Hill, London, in 2006, and becoming its owner in 2008.

In the same year that 35-year-old Bryn opened Odette’s, he was chosen to compete in the first series of the Great British Menu on BBC1.

Competing for Wales, Bryn triumphed with his fish course and went on to cook for the Queen’s birthday banquet.

But working at Odette’s also introduced him to special customer, Texas lead singer Sharleen Spiteri, and he and the Scottish singing sensation have been partners for more than five years.

“Obviously I will be cooking something seasonal when I come to Wrexham,” said Bryn, who has been in London since he was 20.

“A lot of the ingredients will be coming from North Wales although I won’t know the menu exactly until about a week before I come up.

“I try and get home about three or four times a year although unfortunately my visits are more work-related than purely social.

“I will have been in London 16 years this June – and I only came down here for a year!” said Bryn, who has just finished his second series for S4C Cegin Bryn (Bryn’s Kitchen) and has plans for a third series. He also has another cookery book out in October.

Bryn comes from a farming family and after leaving school at 16 he went to Llandrillo College where he was student of the year.

Bryn cooked live every day  in the GMTV kitchen with Myleene Klass during the last week of its 17 years as a breakfast television
broadcaster onITV.

He is passionate about the quality of Welsh food and believes it is as good as anything in Europe and probably the world. Many ingredients at his London restaurant come from Wales, the lamb from Henllan and the beef and pork from John Williams of Denbigh and cheese from South Wales.

“Fish is the only thing I struggle with from Wales. I think it tends to get sold in bulk and that’s a shame.”

He confirmed he is looking for a place he could buy in Wales, is he can find something at the right price and in the right location.

“I’m always looking but it would have to be the right building in the right location,” he said. It would not mean a move back to North Wales for Bryn however, and he would probably look to get one of the many “brilliant chefs” in Wales he has worked with to run it for him.

As chefs become ever more famous, Bryn cautions about expecting overnight success. “Being a chef is about experience. For me I worked with some of the best chefs in the world because I wanted to learn from them.

“It’s a tough industry, although not as tough as when I started but you still have to put in the time.

“People say it’s an unsociable industry but I have met some amazing people at Odette’s. You have to be enthusiastic and disciplined, which is true of any career.

Marks and Spencer will be supplying some of the ingredients for while there will also be a cookery demonstration by the centre’s Nando’s restaurant.

Eagles Meadow Manager Kevin Critchley was delighted that Bryn was coming to the shopping centre.

He said: “We are very pleased that we are working with the food festival to help raise money for Nightingale House which provides a fantastic and much needed service.”

The festival will take place on Saturday 18 and 19  at Llwyn Isaf, Wrexham.

Last year’s event was a huge success, attracting new people to Wrexham and raising the profile of locally produced food as well as the Hospice.

There will be also collections in aid of Nightingale House at Eagles Meadow.

Margaret Hollings, Nightingale’s fundraising and events manager  said: “This year we are looking forward to an even bigger day extravaganza. The weekend will include numerous food and drink stalls and demonstrations from many different local businesses.

“There will be cookery demonstrations from the AGA Rangemaster Kitchen, with Paul Prescott (Executive Chef, Nelson North West), Kevin Williams (Coleg Harlech) and many more over the course of the weekend.

“A full weekend of entertainment will also be provided using the fields band stand. Entry is £4 per person (Under 10’s free). Please come and support this wonderful event; taste some Wales’s finest foods whilst raising funds for a vital charity in the community at the same time.”

Nightingale House Hospice provides specialist palliative care services, completely free of charge, to people across Wrexham, Flintshire, East Denbighshire, the A494 corridor to Barmouth, and the borders, including Oswestry, Ellesmere, Wem and Whitchurch.

In 2013 it will cost £2.6 million to run the Hospice which equates to over £7000 per day. Since only 19% of this comes from the Local Health Board, it is only enough funding to support the Hospice for 69 days, and the hospice therefore greatly relies on the generosity of the communities it serves to raise the additional funding for the remaining 296 days of the year.

For more information please visit www.wrexhamfoodfest.co.uk or call 01978 314292. Stall spaces still available.

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