Royal chef stars at top food festival

Graham Tinsley


A chef who has cooked for the Queen and created a birthday cake for global superstar Celine Dion will be a star attraction at a top food festival.

Graham Tinsley will lead the North Wales Culinary Guild’s demonstration at Hamper Llangollen 2015 on October 17 and 18.

The newly re-launched guild’s membership includes top chefs from all around North Wales.

He is a veteran of the Llangollen event and is a highlight of the UK culinary calendar, recognised as one of the top 10 food festivals in the UK.

Cadwyn Clwyd has provided financial support over the past few years to ensure the festival’s long term viability. This was funded through the Rural Development Fund for Wales 2007-2013, which is funded through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Welsh Government.

Graham said: “We never put the audience off by cooking something so complicated that they wouldn’t easily be able to try it themselves at home.

“Simplicity is the key to food festival workshops. People just love picking up great new tips and gradually improving their own skills.

“One of the most popular demonstrations I ever did was on making an omelette. I had such great feedback and some audience members even tweeted me the following week about their successes trying out my omelette making methods. I love that, to think that we have helped people in a small way.”

A big fan of the way festivals promote local foods and introduce people to new ideas on cooking, always looks forward to the Llangollen one.

In 2015 it plays host to more than 100 local and international exhibitors, along with demonstrations by professionals.

Graham re-launched the guild earlier this year as a spin off from the Culinary Association of Wales which started in 1993 and of which Graham was a founder member.

He said: “The Association has gone from strength to strength over the last two decades. It started here in north Wales but now includes members from right across the country. It has done fabulous work promoting Wales as a culinary destination internationally.

The guild has already secured itself a reputation for excellence, having been invited to cook at 10 Downing Street on St David’s Day this year.

Graham and the team were tasked with providing a March 1 reception feast of Welsh produce for Prime Minister David Cameron and his colleagues as they entertained an array of Welsh celebrities.

Graham, part owner of The Castle Hotel, Conwy, and a consultant chef at prestigious Carden Park Resort, Cheshire, still likes to get in the kitchen as much as possible and says he is still learning new skills even after a lifetime of experience in the profession.

“There are always new trends coming along,” he said. “One of the most popular at the moment is the use of new thickening agents as an alternative to gelatine. They will set at higher temperatures and so provide the option for making hot mousses and hot panna cottas as opposed to the traditional cold variety.

“It’s always good to experiment with new techniques but it’s important to get the basics right first. That’s why we keep festival demonstrations quite simple,” added Graham.

Graham, a former manager of the Welsh Culinary Team, received an MBE from the Queen for his services to the food industry.

He has cooked for royalty on several occasions and was invited to the wedding of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.

Last year during a visit to Canada, he was asked to create a birthday cake for top singing artist Celine Dion. With the Welsh National Culinary Team he has also cooked for the Emperor of Japan and European heads of state at Cardiff Castle.

Hamper Llangollen 2015 will also include cookery demonstrations by Flintshire’s Luke Thomas who was the youngest head chef in Britain at age 18 and now runs restaurants in the UK and Dubai; Denise Baker, of Bethesda, who specialises in creating delicious meals using ingredients which would otherwise go to waste; and comedian and musician, Silky, who will be swapping jokes for yolks, showing off his cookery skills in public for the first ever time.

For more details about Llangollen Food Festival-Hamper Llangollen visit