There was an early St. David's Day celebration for Gavin Kellett after he was crowned the National Chef of Wales at the three-day Welsh International Culinary Championships held at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai's Rhos-on-Sea campus.
Kellett, from Crickhowell, who works at The Three Horseshoes Inn, Groesffordd, Brecon, emerged with the nation's most prestigious culinary title following an exceptional final which saw him fend off a trio of chefs from the Chester Grosvenor.
A finalist last year, the 33-year-old went one better to pip 2018 Junior champion Arron Tye, from Penyffordd, to the crown, with Sam Griffiths, from Wrexham, in third and another 2018 finalist, Matt Ramsdale, from Weston Rhyn, near Oswestry, in fourth.
I am very surprised to have won,
It has been very hectic over the last three or four days preparing for this, so to have won is up there with the best days of my career. I have done well in competitions before, but this is probably the biggest achievement for me.
I try to do things a bit different with my own twist on classics. I wasn't going to enter any more competitions after this, but I will have to change my mind now! I have to thank my wife who was with me today and also my work for allowing me the time off to enter. I am delighted.
The four chefs were tasked with creating a three-course meal for four people using mostly Welsh products. The starter had to be vegan with the main course consisting of two different cuts of Welsh beef and a dessert including chocolate as a main ingredient.
Kellett impressed the four judges by opening with a Waldolf Salad starter consisting of poached celeriac, burnt apple and walnut bread, followed by a main course of Butty Bach glazed fillet of Welsh beef, braised oxtail, Menai oyster, baked potato foam, beef dripping carrots and grain crust. His dazzling finale was a dessert of Coco Pzazz dark chocolate and Penderyn Whiskey cheesecake with peanuts, Welsh honeycomb, and Halen Mon salted caramel.
As well as the prestigious dragon trophy, Kellett will be invited to a study tour hosted by Koppert Cress in the Netherlands. He also received £250 worth of Churchill products and an engraved set of knives made by Friedr Dick.
The final brought the curtain down on three successful days of competitions at the Welsh International Culinary Championships, which welcomed hundreds of chefs and front of house staff to compete under one roof.
In addition to the National and Junior Chef of Wales contests, the Skills Competition Wales culinary finals and the Major International Regional Competition were held alongside the Battle for the Dragon contest.
The awards were presented at a dinner held at the Llandudno Bay Hotel. It was organised by the Culinary Association of Wales, and president, Arwyn Watkins, praised the level of competition over the three days.
The main sponsor for the event was Food and Drink Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government's department representing the food and drink industry.
Grŵp Llandrillo Menai is a recipient of a Queens Diamond Jubilee Anniversary Award, which was presented in 2012 at Buckingham Palace for delivering world-class education in hospitality and catering at every level of study. In the last Estyn government inspection, the college's hospitality and catering provision was classed as excellent. The college's Hospitality and Catering programme area is the only one in Wales to offer full and part-time courses from Level 1 to Bachelor Honours Degrees in Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts.
For more information on Hospitality and Catering courses at Coleg Llandrillo, or any of the Grŵp Llandrillo Menai campuses, call the college's Learner Services team on 01492 542 338.