Coleg Llandrillo, Coleg Menai, Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor and Busnes@LlandrilloMenai logosColeg Llandrillo, Coleg Menai, Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor and Busnes@LlandrilloMenai logos

Masterchef finalist returns to inspire Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor catering students

Masterchef finalist Owen Vaughan returned to Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor recently to inspire students at his former college.

Owen achieved a childhood dream when he made it to the final of last year’s Masterchef: The Professionals - and he credits his time at Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor as being a “great stepping stone” in his career.

The 24-year-old is head chef at the Fanny Talbot restaurant in Barmouth, having also had the same role at the Penmaenuchaf Hall hotel in Dolgellau.

Before that he worked at Portmeirion and at the Palé Hall Hotel in Bala, after studying catering at Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor until 2016.

"Coming to study catering at Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor was a fantastic start, and a great stepping stone for my career,” he said after giving a talk to catering and hospitality students at the Dolgellau campus.

“It was good to catch up with the lecturers and talk to the current students. I talked to them about my time in college, how my experience was while I was there and what I’ve done since.

“I’m head chef at the Fanny Talbot restaurant in Barmouth. We do fine dining, quite posh food and we use a lot of local Welsh produce.

“I told the students it’s a solid career in terms of what you can achieve. I was just trying to inspire them really, and there were a lot of questions afterwards so hopefully I did that. They asked me about why I went into the industry, and about Masterchef, whether it was nerve racking - which it was!

“It was an extraordinary experience - it was something I’d always wanted to do and something I’ll never forget.”

Owen made a sea bass dish in the final of the BBC show, and although he didn’t win in the end, he says he took a huge amount from the experience.

“I gained a lot of confidence from it and got great feedback from the judges,” he said.

“The judges were critical, but that really helped me get a lot more out of the experience, and they also mentored you so there was a lot of really good feedback to take from it.”

Owen, from Barmouth, began cooking from a young age with his nan, and it became an obsession which he has now turned into a career.

“I always knew I wanted to cook because I’ve always enjoyed it at home,” he said. “It’s something that I felt came quite naturally to me. From then it became an obsession. I’d always be looking online, watching cooking programmes and reading cookbooks. I just wanted to learn as much as I could. I was (and still am) obsessed with food.”

For more information on Hospitality and Catering courses available at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, please click here.

MasterChef: The Professionals 15 is available on BBC iPlayer