The Culinary Association of Wales has appointed a new president and secretary to drive forward the membership organisation.
Arwyn Watkins, managing director and chairman of Welshpool-based Cambrian Training Company, takes over as president from Colin Gray, managing director of Capital Cuisine, Bedwas, who held the post for two years and now becomes vice president.
New secretary is vastly experienced chef and culinary judge John Retallick from Pencader, near Carmarthen.
Mr Watkins, who coached and mentored the Junior Welsh National Culinary Team to their only Olympic gold medal in 2004, is passionate about developing the skills of Welsh chefs.
“I am looking forward to this new challenge and hope to be able to use my expertise in dealing with the public sector to link the aspirations of the Culinary Association of Wales with the aspirations of Food and Drink Wales and food tourism in Wales,” he said.
“I would also like to see the culinary association have much more exposure within Wales. We shall be looking for talented and committed chefs to represent both the senior and junior Culinary Team Wales in next year’s Culinary Olympics in Germany.”
Earlier this year, Mr Watkins stood down from his role as a key advisor to the National Training Federation Wales, which he had also served as chairman and chief executive. He is a director and trustee of the British Food Trust and represents the Culinary Association Wales on the National Committee of the Applied Ability Awards.
He was instrumental in running pilot programmes in Wales, which have led to a ground-breaking, craft-led apprenticeship and Higher Apprenticeship for chefs with Pearson and People 1st.
A farmer’s son, he left Builth Wells High School in 1978 to join the Army as an apprentice chef and has maintained his commitment to apprenticeship programmes throughout his working life with a very strong focus on people development.
Mr Gray said he was proud of what had been achieved during his two years as president. “We are in a stronger position than we have ever been in terms of membership and support from sponsors,” he added. “We also had a record number of entries for this year’s Welsh International Culinary Championships.
“One of the key things we have tried to do is to make the association more professional, transparent and accountable. I am confident that Arwyn will now take the association to the next level.”
Mr Retallick is a World Association of Chefs’ Societies (WACS) judge who has judged at leading culinary competitions around the globe. He was chairman of judges at Hotel Olympia and the Hospitality Show in Birmingham for more than 20 years.
A former Culinary Team Wales manager, he moved to Wales in 1993 and was chairman of judges at this year’s Welsh International Culinary Championships. During his career he worked on the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship, in London’s West End, as a consultant development chef for Gourmet Classic and taught and lectured at the Army School of Catering, Aldershot, Port Rush Culinary School and South Devon Culinary College, Torquay.
“We have some very good chefs in Wales and I hope to increase membership, which is the way forward for the association,” said Mr Retallick. “I have gained a lot of experience over the years from being involved in so many associations and competitions around the world.
“I’m excited about this new post and one of my goals is to work towards improving for competitors the already successful Welsh International Culinary Championships.”