Thousands of foodies will be flocking to Llangollen this weekend for one of the biggest events in the UK’s culinary calendar.
The popular Hamper Llangollen has been recognised as one of the Top 10 food festivals in Britain.
There to greet the gastronomes on Saturday and Sunday will be a host of top chefs and organisers are confident the event at the home of the International Musical Eisteddfod is on course to be bigger and better this year.
Graham Tinsley, the star of ITV’s Taste the Nation and a former captain of the Welsh Culinary Team, will be joined in the show kitchen by Luke Thomas, the kingpin behind a number of restaurants in Chester, the Cotswolds and Berkshire, .
Another of the kitchen stars will be Dai Chef, now based at Bodnant Welsh Food, the centre of excellence for Welsh food, who famously cooked for opera superstar Luciano Pavarotti while he was head chef at the Bryn Howell Hotel just down the road.
Among the hundred plus exhibitors will be one of the hottest companies around.
The Dangerous Food Company, based in St Asaph, has almost quadrupled its business in a year – after putting on face masks and protective clothing to get it up and running.
They unveiled their fiery chilli jams at the Hamper Llangollen last year and went on to increase stockists of the breath-taking products from just 25 shops to 110 across Wales and Cheshire.
For those who want something a bit cooler, Chilly Cow Ice Cream will be launching their new honey and lavender variety at Hamper Llangollen.
Anna Taylor who runs the company based at Llanychan, near Ruthin, will be using honey farmed just down the road from her by enthusiastic beekeeper Brian Dacre, a carpenter who makes hand-crafted bee hives as well as farming bees.
Anna said: “Brian’s honey is pure gold, just delicious and there’s big demand for it, plus it’s local to us, so perfect for using in a new flavour of ice cream.”
It will be a bittersweet occasion for a scientist who swapped the laboratory for the kitchen by launching a cooking sauces brand.
Dr Beatriz Albo returned to the lab to develop an exciting new range of Spanish tapas meals and delicious aiolis created in memory of her mother. The new range will go on sale at the festival.
“Hamper Llangollen was my first food festival, so it is special to me,” said Spanish-born Beatriz, whose Wrexham business has taken off faster than she could ever have imagined.
Also there will be company that fuses the tastes of Africa and Wales and is launching a new dessert topping.
Bim’s Kitchen, whose hot and spicy African inspired relishes have been a big hit across the UK.
African baobab and cocoa nib sour caramel sauce has brought together the food of two continents.
It includes Anglesey sea salt alongside exotic ingredients from Africa.
The recipe is a first entry into the sweets market for Flintshire-based Bim’s Kitchen, founded by James Adedeji and his wife Nicola.
Their previous condiments such as African baobab chilli jam, chilli coconut relish and lemony piri piri sauce have all been savoury accompaniments.
James said: “It is a fantastic event. That’s why we chose it to launch our new sour caramel sauce. It is the first time we have tried something sweet like this so it will take us in a new direction and we’re very keen to find out what festival goers think.
“The advantage of launching it at a festival like this is that people can actually taste it in front of us and tell us exactly what they think there and then, something they can’t do when buying it off shop shelves to take home.”
Hamper Llangollen chair Colin Loughlin believes this year’s festival is going to be one of the best ever.
He said: “Thanks to a whole host of indigenous companies, North East Wales is rapidly establishing a reputation as a centre of excellence for high quality cuisine.
“The food festival is a perfect shop window for the companies who form the backbone of our rural economy.
“The location of the Pavilion is absolutely spectacular – I can’t imagine that any other food festival in the UK has a more beautiful setting.”
For more details about Hamper Llangollen 2015 visit www.llangollenfoodfestival.com