The picturesque town of Llangollen will become the culinary capital of the UK for one weekend in the autumn.
Thousand of foodies will be flocking there for the popular Hamper Llangollen food festival on Saturday and Sunday, October 15 and 16, to browse over more than 100 stalls at Llangollen’s Royal International Pavilion.
The event is rated as one of the Top 10 food festivals in the UK and has provided successful platform for innovative new food and drink from North Wales.
Among the highlights this year will be a demonstration by celebrity chef Dai Davies aka Dai Chef who will be recreating the memorable meal he cooked for the superstar tenor Luciano Pavarotti.
During his time at the Llangollen’s Bryn Howel Hotel, Dai cooked for a whole host of superstar singers, including José Carreras and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, who came to appear at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod,
But the high of his glittering career for Dai, who who is now executive chef at The Cliffs restaurant in Morfa Nefyn near Pwllheli, was spending a week as personal chef to Pavarotti when he headlined during an emotional return to the festival in 1995.
Pavarotti’s pilgrimage came exactly 40 years after he had first competed there as a 19-year-old member of the Chorus Rossini choir from Modena, Italy in 1955.
To celebrate the occasion Dai will weave his magic to prepare again the meal he prepared specially for the maestro in that glorious summer 21 years ago.
The festival is also a popular choice for food companies wanting to launch new products.
Among them this year will be Dominic Haynes and Llyr Jones, who launched the Dangerous Food Company less than three years ago when they were both made redundant from an Irish dairy.
They are now supplying their unique brand of chilli jams to restaurants, farm shops and delicatessens across the UK – and even as far away as Alphen in Holland.
The St Asaph-based enterprise is preparing to unveil a new, top-secret product and the duo have just signed up their 150thoutlet – the Frankie’s Farm Shop in Dyserth.
Meanwhile, chocolatier Jo Edwards is aiming to snatch a world record from TV chef Gino D’Acampo and become the fastest truffle maker on the planet.
Jo, who set up her successful artisan chocolate company, Aballu, in 2006 will be going all out for the new benchmark in front of thousands of discerning chocoholics at Hamper Llangollen.
And she reckons that, given the right conditions, she can not only better the celebrity chef’s formidable tally of 47 but go on to smash it to pieces by rustling up over 50 truffles within the allotted 120 seconds
Clwyd South AM Ken Skates, who is also the Welsh Government’s cabinet secretary for the economy and infrastructure, is a fan of the festival..
He said: “Hamper Llangollen is an incredible success and a great annual occasion for the Dee Valley.
“I’m particularly pleased that there’s a focus on encouraging new exhibitors and giving prominence to the many outstanding food and drink producers in North Wales for whom it is a fantastic opportunity to showcase their unique and delicious products.”
Hamper Llangollen chair Colin Loughlin believes this year’s festival is going to be one of the best ever.
He said: “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.”