Award-winning Master Chef Brian Mellor is coming home to North Wales where his gourmet journey began. The culinary maestro who has cooked for TV celebs, Prime Ministers and Royalty, revealed yesterday that he began his stellar career nearly 30 years ago – at The Hand Hotel in Llangollen. He’s returning to the town to give a cookery exhibition in the Llangollen Pavilion for Hamper Llangollen 2012, the Llangollen food and drink Festival, October 20-21. Brian will in action on the Sunday and will be joined by a trio of other celebrity chefs including Graham Tinsley, the star of ITV’s Taste the Nation and a former captain of the Welsh Culinary Team. Also starring in the show kitchen will S4C favourite Dudley Newberry, and the ever popular Dai Chef, who is returning to the event after an absence of several years. This year’s festival is being supported by the rural development agency, Cadwyn Clwyd. Cadwyn Clwyd’s contribution came via the Rural Development Fund for Wales 2007-2013, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Welsh Government. Brian is best known as an award winning Master Chef of Great Britain, awarded Master craftsman status by the Craft Guild of Chefs, former Head Chef at BBC and Executive Chef at Granada TV cooking at their famous penthouse which is on top of the Granada studios. “I’ve not contained myself to the fine dining restaurant work, I’ve tried everything from producing 2,000 meals a day to cooking at the Granada penthouse where I was personal chef to the directors and where you could be cooking for two. “It was used for private entertaining. For example when Julie Goodyear was leaving Coronation Street they could not easily go to a private restaurant because you would have to negotiate trying to secure private space. “We had OJ Simpson there, Tammy Wynette, the Osmonds and of course Prime Minsters John Major and Tony Blair.” Brian, who now runs a cookery school in Harthill, in Cheshire, has fond memories of starting out in the business. He recalled: “I was at college and for my placement at the end of the first year I went to The Hand Hotel in Llangollen. I have happy memories of Llangollen. I was 17 and let loose! I was working as a waiter in the Hand restaurant and not in the kitchen. “The Llangollen Food Festival has a lot of meaning for me because it’s the place where the journey began back in 1983. It’s a few years since I was back but I remember it was such a wonderful setting and the festival is of great importance in helping bring visitors to the town.” As someone who attends countless food festivals all over the country, Brian said: “You need a really good quality festival to attract visitors year after year and the fact that Llangollen is still going after about 15 years – it was probably one of the first major food festivals – says a lot about its quality.” Since Brian started out, lots of youngsters have been attracted to a career in cookery after watching celebrity chef programmes on TV. But Brian cautions: “These days they want to do the fancy bits straight away but forget that you have to wash and prepare the veg’ first.” He said: “My home town is Widnes and I studied at South Cheshire college in Crewe and then started my apprenticeship. “My interest in cooking stems from both my grandmothers being cooks and there were always big family Sunday lunches when there would be lots of arguing about rugby – coming from a big rugby league town like Widnes. “One of my grandmothers was manageress in the local college refectory at a time when they made the food which was served in the colleges.” Brian’s dad was a milkman and he used to help him make deliveries in school holidays, which often included sterilised milk. It’s something people “of a certain age” remember well but rarely gets promoted so Brian has just helped his local Delamere Dairies come up with recipes using sterilised milk. Brian also played a key role in helping with the restoration of Gorton Monastery. The World Heritage site was derelict and nearing collapse. “A very enthusiastic group worked on the restoration and I helped fit a commercial kitchen into the Monastery, working with English Heritage,” he said. The Monastery in Manchester is now a spectacular dining venue. Brian also got involved in rescuing the grade II listed Harthill Village School which sits in the English countryside and is close to Bolesworth, Beeston and Peckforton Castles. That became the Brian Mellor Cookery School, a project very close to Brian’s heart,  and it has just celebrated (Oct 5) it’s very successful first year in operation. The school is described as “a vibrant centre for professionals and public to indulge their passion for food”. Brian has help from expert colleagues to run cooking classes, from chocolatiers, to artisan bakers, cheese makers to game keepers, and is constantly supporting local producers, advocating cooking with home-grown ingredients and working with nature’s best. And how did Brian succeed as a waiter? “The fact that I went on to be a chef says it all,” said Brian. Robert Price,  Cadwyn Clwyd’s agri-food project officer, added: “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.”   Check out the exhibitors for Hamper 2012 at www.llangollenfoodfestival.com and for more information about Brian’s Harthill school visit www.brianmellor.co.uk