A celebrity chef who has cooked regularly for royalty and government leaders says North Wales produces some of the best food in the world.
Graham Tinsley MBE, who has prepared dishes for the Queen and Prince Charles on at least a dozen occasions and also created St David’s Day feasts at 10 Downing Street, can’t wait to showcase it at this year’s Llangollen Food Festival.
He will be leading the trio of top culinary maestros laying on a series of crowd-pulling cookery demonstrations on the second day of the festival, which will be staged at Llangollen Pavilion on October 14 and 15.
The event, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and has been named as one of the Top 10 food festivals in the UK by the Daily Telegraph and Independent newspapers.
Currently executive head chef at the prestigious Carden Park in Cheshire, Graham said: “Myself and two other big-name chefs from the North Wales Culinary Guild, which I head up, will be doing six demonstrations on the Sunday of Llangollen Food Festival, featuring starters, mains and puddings.
“What they’ll all have in common is excellent local ingredients. Without doubt, North Wales produces some of the best produce in the world which I champion at every opportunity.
“I love to use things from the smaller bespoke producers, so in the demonstrations we’ll be including such things as locally sourced meat as well as ice cream, rape seed oil, honey and beer which all come from producers based just a few miles away from Llangollen and are regular exhibitors at the festival.
“And as I use them I’ll be pointing out to the people watching exactly how good they are and which stalls they can buy them from. That’s what shows like this are all about.”
Graham, who was awarded the MBE by the Queen for his services to the food industry in 2006, added: “Wherever I travel in the world I try to tell people just how good food from North Wales is.
“For instance, I was recently in holiday in Greece and took with me some of the famous Halen Mon sea salt from Anglesey. I let local chefs try it and they were very impressed as it’s quite delicate compared to the rougher kinds they have over there.
“It’s also a lovely salt to eat and I often get people just to try some when I’m doing my demonstrations.”
Graham began his career in catering at the Midland Hotel in Manchester under the guidance of renowned chef Gilbert Lefevre.
After a five-year apprenticeship and winning a collection of culinary competition medals, he extended his knowledge of international cuisine at the five-star Atlantis Sheraton in Zurich, Switzerland before returning to England to work under the influential Anton Mosimann at the Dorchester Hotel in London.
He then spent nine years with De Vere Hotels, firstly as sous chef and then as head chef at the flagship Lord Daresbury Hotel in Warrington, Cheshire.
In 1991, Graham was head hunted to help develop and open the first four star hotel in North Wales – St David’s Park Hotel in Ewloe.
The hotel was such an overwhelming success that, in 1997, he was appointed to the team that developed and opened the Carden Park Hotel, Spa and Golf Resort in Cheshire, which is where he returned to take executive charge of the kitchens six years ago.
Over the course of 25 years he was in turn vice-captain, captain and then manager of the Welsh Culinary Team, which won a host of international competitions.
With the team he cooked for the Queen, Prince Charles and other members of the Royal Family on numerous occasions, as well as the Emperor of Japan and European heads of state at Cardiff Castle.
Following the opening of the Welsh Assembly’s Senedd in Cardiff, Graham supervised the celebratory luncheon for the Queen
For a number of years he was invited to 10 Downing Street by David Cameron to prepare memorable St David’s Day meals.
Graham said: “One of the highlights of my year for the past seven or eight years has been to do the cookery demonstrations at Llangollen Food.
“I think they keep inviting me back because I have the gift of the gab. I love talking to people as I’m cooking.
“I’m always a little nervous beforehand but once I get up on stage and start inter-acting with the public I feel great. It’s fantastic to get their feedback on what I’m preparing, to answer their questions and to give them some handy cookery tips.”
According to Phil Davies, a member of the committee at Llangollen Food Festival, Graham is a firm favourite with the festival goers.
He said: “With his royal credentials, we can be assured that Graham and his team of culinary maestros will be demonstrating some wonderful dishes featuring some fantastic local produce.
“His message that North Wales produces some of the best food in the world and chimes perfectly with our ethos of providing a showcase for our brilliant indigenous producers.
“This year’s 20th anniversary festival promises to be one of the best ever with a record number of around 130 stall-holders.”
To find out more about Llangollen Food Festival go to: www.llangollenfoodfestival.com