A team of star chefs from Los Angeles and New York have been building links with North Wales producers and restaurants during a recent tour of Wales.
The chefs from the US visited a range of producers across the country to get a good understanding of the quality and variety of food on offer – and learned all about the delights of North Wales at Bodnant Welsh Food Centre in Conwy. The delegation included Hollywood star Harrison Ford’s son, Ben Ford, who runs the Ford’s Filling Station restaurant in Los Angeles, and Matt Hoyle, executive chef at Japanese restaurant Nobu 57 in New York. They were treated to a tour of Bodnant’s award-winning dairy and were given samples of a variety of products from the Conwy area that are sold at the centre’s Farm Shop.
Representatives from North Star Distillery, which makes Merywen gin, the Aberffraw Biscuit Company, The Mushroom Garden and Llaeth y Llan Village Dairy, were on hand to showcase their products to the chefs. Simon Burrows, business development manager at Bodnant Welsh Food Centre, said the visit could have far-reaching benefits for food producers in the area. “We were absolutely delighted to welcome the group to the centre,” he said. “Along with the chefs there were half a dozen American journalists who will be writing about their experience here in Wales, so it’s a fantastic way of raising the profile of Welsh food and drink. They were really interested in the dairy and the process of how we make the cheese and butter here, and you could tell they were inspired by the whole North Wales area. We already sell our butter in some parts of America - indeed one visitor said she bought some Bodnant butter at Christmas - and the hope is that these chefs will now consider using more Welsh products in their kitchens.
“We were delighted that David Evans, of Dylan’s Restaurant at Menai Bridge, was able to join us to talk to the group about the North Wales food scene, particularly bringing their attention to the fine quality seafood available in the area. In fact the chefs and journalists enjoyed their time here so much that they were rather late for their next appointment as they didn’t want to leave the Farm Shop!”
As well as Ben Ford and Matt Hoyle, the other chefs on the tour were Shane Lyons, of Distilled restaurant in New York, and Chuck Beradi of Wegmans food markets, which has more than 90 stores across six eastern American states.
The trip was organised by Janet Redler, of Janet Redler Travel and Tourism, on behalf of Visit Wales to build links between Welsh food producers and key restaurateurs in America. Janet said she was delighted with the success of the trip.
“This visit by leading chefs and travel writers from the USA has really put Wales on the map and ‘on the plate’ as an essential destination for US travellers wanting the very best in food products, hotels and fine dining,” she said. “Wales has the wow factor for the travel trade – now our friends from all over the US just need to experience it for themselves!”