Held every February at Coleg Llandrillo’s Rhos-on-Sea campus for nearly 20 years, the championships is a showcase for some of the best chefs from across the UK, and returns after an absence of two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Designed to celebrate the nation's fantastic culinary skills and rich array of quality food, the three-day championships is packed with exciting live hot and cold food competitions for learner, junior and senior chefs and waiting staff.
The prestigious National and Junior Chef of the Wales contests, organised by the Culinary Association of Wales (CAW), brought talented Welsh chefs from across Wales and England in the quest for the two coveted dragon winners’ trophies. A total of ten chefs cooked-off in the finals of Wales’ two premier culinary competitions, with the victors taking home a selection of fantastic prizes.
Coleg Llandrillo Hospitality & Catering degree student 22-year-old Dalton Weir from Llandudno was crowned Junior Chef of Wales by a team of renowned judges at a presentation evening in Llandudno, hours after the curtain came down on this year’s championships. The new National Chef of Wales is Thomas Herbert, 24, from Bridgend, who works at Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa, Chippenham.
Dalton, who is head chef at Watson’s Bistro, Conwy beat off stiff competition from the other four finalists:
Katie Duffy, an apprentice at Stradey Park Hotel, Llanelli: Stephanie Grace Belcher, sous chef at Peterstone Court Hotel, Llanhamlach, Brecon; Falon Bailie, apprentice chef de partie at Foyles of Glasbury, Glasbury, and Cai Morris, chef de partie at The Bull, Beaumaris.
The two victors received the coveted dragon trophies from Wales’ Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, Lesley Griffiths, at the Welsh International Culinary Championships presentation dinner held at the Imperial Hotel, Llandudno last night (Thursday).
The competitions for chefs and front of house learners attracted students from colleges across Wales and England. Several Coleg Llandrillo students competed during the championships, winning best in class awards, and an array of medals between them during the three days of competition. They were also presented with the ECOLAB Hygiene Award and Judges Award of Best Overall Live Restaurant.
17-year-olds Heather Spencer from Llanfairfechan and Thomas Perkins from Llandudno Junction, who are studying on the Level 2 Diploma in Professional Cookery course, won Gold Medal Best in Class (Team Challenge Chicken Butchery & Classic Chasseur). Heather Spencer also won Gold Medal Best in Class in the Restaurant Challenge competition, plus the judges’ special overall award of Best Live Restaurant.
Culinary degree student, Alex Nicholson, 20 from Rhyl, won a Gold and a Bronze in the Restaurant Challenge and Main Course Flambé competitions respectively.
16-year-old Rhian James from Llandudno Junction won Gold in the Knife Skills - Fruit Cuts competition. She is only in her first year at college and is studying on the Level 1 Diploma - Introduction to Professional Cookery and Food and Beverage Service course.
Jediah Kristian from Conwy produced an excellent crepe flambé and received a Silver medal in the Flambé Dessert category. He also claimed a Bronze medal in the Main Course Flambé competition. Jediah was also a recent finalist at the UK WorldSkills finals in Glasgow.
Arwyn Watkins, Culinary Association of Wales president, said: “The Welsh International Culinary Championships was the perfect place for all these culinary competitions to come together in one place. After the challenges of the past two years, we were delighted to put on such a fantastic event which showcased the rich talent and skills within the hospitality sector.”
Grŵp Llandrillo Menai – comprising Coleg Llandrillo, Coleg Menai and Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor - is a recipient of a Queens Diamond Jubilee Anniversary Award, which was presented at Buckingham Palace for delivering world-class education in hospitality and catering at every level of study. In the recent Estyn government inspection, the college’s hospitality and catering provision was classed as ‘excellent’.
For more information on Hospitality and Catering courses at Coleg Llandrillo, call the college’s Learner Services team on 01492 542 338.