Beca Lyne-Pirkis, who cooked her way to semi final of the smash hit TV show Great British Bake Off in 2013, will be one of the stars of this year’s Hamper Llangollen.
Beca, who has her own show, Becws, on S4C, which is sponsored by the Wrexham-based Village Bakery, teaches at a cookery school in Derbyshire and is a chef and consultant for London’s famous Borough food market.
Originally from Cardiff, Beca says she learned much of what knows about food and cooking from spending precious time with both her grandmothers.
“By the age of 16 they’d both taught me a lot about cooking,” she recalled.
“Betty Murphy, my father’s mum who we I call Nan, lives in Cardiff and from her I learned how to make things like rock cakes, drop scones and preserves.
“One occasion which sticks out in my memory was when she asked if I’d like to make something special to welcome my mum back home from a trip working away.
“She suggested we do butterfly cakes but instead I said let’s make some profiteroles. Nan said she didn’t know how to make them but that we’d learn together, which we did.
“My grandmother on my mother’s side, who I knew as Mamgu which is a south Walian term for gran, was a farmer’s wife in Carmarthenshire and is now no longer with us.
“She taught me how to make bread and traditional Welsh things like bara brith and cawl, which is a kind of lob scouse.
“The first series of Becws I did for S4C concentrated on my early influences and upbringing and featured a lot about the things I learned from Nan and Mamgu.
“As my career has developed I don’t do so many of their recipes but every time I bake it reminds me of Mamgu and her telling me what ingredients to use.”
Beca intends to pass on some of the family cookery secrets to her own two daughters, four-year-old Mari and Alys, two, as part of the Welsh education she wants them to have.
Meanwhile, her own skills have developed along the lines of world cuisine and some of the new ideas she’s picked up from Borough Road Market in London for which she does publicity work and writes a regular blog.
She said: “Since I appeared on Bake Off my life has completely changed because it’s given me a career and it’s now a question fitting everything in around my family life.
“I’m preparing for the third series on S4C called Parti Bwyd Beca, which will be screened in the autumn, around the same time as I’m at Hamper Llangollen, which is a festival I’m really looking forward to.
“I love coming to North Wales as it reminds me of when I did some summer jobs in Bala when I was young. We also do a lot of filming up there.
“I know Llangollen pretty well because my father, Gerald Murphy, has for many years designed the sets for the International Musical Eisteddfod which I went to many times as a youngster.
“This will be the first time I’ve appeared at Hamper Llangollen and I’ve not yet worked out exactly what I’ll be doing in my demonstrations but it will definitely be something using fresh local produce.
“The importance of that is one of the things my Mamgu taught me because it tastes 10 times better than anything from overseas.
“People these days want to know what’s in their food and where it comes from. Local produce is just better for you and you know exactly where it’s coming from.”
Her husband Matthew is a Medical Sergeant in the Army and it was through this connection and her love for singing, refined when she gained a degree in Music from Cardiff University, that Beca joined one of the famous Military Wives Choirs.
She originally sang with the Aldershot choir when Matthew was based in the area but now back in Cardiff her aim is to start up a new group for South Wales.
“I also keep in touch with my fellow contestants from Bake Off, especially Kimberley Wilson and Glenn Cosby, who I meet up with when I’m in London,” she said.
Hamper Llangollen chairman Colin Loughlin said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming Beca to the festival for the first time.
“It’s going to be a really special event this year. Thanks to a whole host of indigenous food companies, North East Wales has established 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.”