Category: News

Conwy’s Bodnant Welsh Food Centre is set to welcome millionth visitor

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A popular centre of Welsh excellence for Welsh food is preparing to welcome its millionth visitor – just three years after it opened.

The news was revealed during a visit to Bodnant Welsh Food in the Conwy Valley by Ken Skates AM, Wales’ Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism.

Mr Skates was there to open the centre’s new gift shop and help the centre mark its third anniversary.

Managing Director Chris Morton said Bodnant has been visited by hundreds of thousands of people from around the globe since it was first opened by the Prince of Wales in July 2012.

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And the coming months will see the millionth person cross the threshold into the renovated Furnace Farm, to visit its award-winning farm shop, wine cellar, tea rooms, restaurant and farmhouse accommodation along with the Welsh Bee Centre.

Trade has risen by 10 per cent, with a further boost on the cards thanks to the new gift shop, while expansion plans have seen the opening of ‘mini-Bodnants’ in a holiday park at Llanrug and a Wirral garden centre, along with a new home-delivery service, said Chris.

The new gift shop stocks a range of Clogau Gold jewellery, along with hand-made cards, scented candles made by rugby legend Scott Quinnell and his family, local guide books, beauty products, slate servers and food and drink from around Wales.

Mr Skates, who was given a tour of Bodnant, said: “Wales’ reputation for high quality food and drink is growing and is becoming an essential part of our tourism offer. Earlier this year we launched our Food Tourism Action Plan to make the most of this industry and the developments at Bodnant are a great example of what we want to achieve.

“Bodnant is adding to the growing portfolio of visitor attractions in North Wales, and helping to make this area one of the very best regions to visit for food and drink, for outdoor activity and for adventure.”

The gift shop has been created from storage space at the centre to meet customer demand, explained Chris.

“We have many tour coaches visit the centre, as well as families on day trips, and many have said that they would like a Welsh-made memento to take home with them, other than food. So we looked around to see how we could expand out range within the space available to us.

“I am delighted to be working with Clogau Gold, which has a display in the gift shop of its unique Welsh jewellery, as every piece contains gold from Snowdonia.  It is important to us that our products have a strong connection with Wales.

“More than half of all the products sold in the farm shop are produced at Bodnant Welsh Food centre, and three-quarters of what we sell comes from Wales, including specialist foods from over 100 artisan producers.

“The new gift shop, combined with the other expansion schemes we are putting in place, will help to safeguard the jobs of the 80 people who work here plus hopefully create new jobs in the future.

“We are aiming to continue to increase sales, which is good for our suppliers and the local economy as well.”

Bodnant is now firmly on the map, with dozens of tours from the Far East and North America, plus tourists from cruise ships docking in Holyhead and Liverpool.

The centre’s farm shop was named as the best in the UK by the prestigious BBC Good Food magazine – bringing a congratulatory tweet from Prince Charles. Bodnant was awarded Best Retailer in Wales in the Farm Shop Awards, and picked up a host of prizes at the Royal Welsh Show, International Cheese Show and Welsh Awards for Excellence in Meat Products.

Bodnant’s owners have also been honoured with a conservation award from industry body RICS for breathing new life the redundant farm buildings.

Bodnant’s dairy makes ice-creams that are sold in the centre’s tearooms, Hayloft restaurant and the farm shop, along with butter that is still patted and shaped by hand, and sold wrapped in greaseproof paper.

Bodnant was named Welsh Retailer of the Year in the prestigious Farm Shop and Deli Awards.

More details at or call 01492 651100

Wednesday September 23rd, 2015


Bodnant Welsh Food’s hand-made butter wins big at national awards

Bodnant Welsh Food. Simon Lloyd and Emily Robinson with the award winning Bodnant salted butter.

Butter lovingly made by hand at a Welsh centre of excellence has won a huge pat on the back from judges in a prestigious national competition.

Bodnant Butter has just been awarded a coveted gold star in Great Taste 2015, which is acknowledged as one of the world’s most important food and drink awards.

The annual competition is organised by the Guild of Fine Food and judged by hundreds of food experts, including chefs, buyers, retailers, restaurateurs, food critics and writers who use blind tastings to make their selection.

The distinctive gold and black Great Taste logo, which Bodnant Butter is now entitled to proudly display on its packaging, is a recognised stamp of excellence among retailers and consumers alike.

The butter is made by traditional methods in the in-house dairy at Bodnant, using milk delivered daily from farmer Arfon Jones’ herd of Friesian cattle, grazing in the Conwy Valley.

Aled Rowlands, Bodnant’s dairy manager for the past three years, said he was delighted for himself and his entire team of five staff to win the Great Taste accolade for their butter.

“It’s a very proud moment for us as this is the first award which our butter has won, and it’s such an important one as it’s recognised as a mark of excellence across the whole of the artisan food sector.

“We’ve been making the Welsh salted butter in the dairy since I came here and this is real recognition for our efforts.

“When devising it, I came up with a modern take on traditional farmhouse-style butter and it’s been gaining in popularity over the past couple of years.

“We sell it at Bodnant, in our farm shop, tea rooms, the kitchens of the Hayloft restaurant and also use it as an ingredient in the cookery school.

“Apart from that, we’ve also started to wholesale the butter and it’s now available in a growing number of farm shops across the region.”

Describing how Bodnant’s award-winning butter is made, Aled said: “We use only the finest local ingredients and that’s milk from a nearby dairy plus sea salt.

“The milk comes direct from Tal y Cafn Ucha Farm just down the road from Bodnant which has a herd of 80 Friesian cows.

“We take about 1,600 litres every other day and use most of the cream from it – amounting to around 250-300 litres a week – to make the butter.

“Fifty litres of the cream at a time is churned for an average of 20 minutes to make a batch of approximately 25 kilos of butter.

“We then separate the buttermilk from the butter and that is sold in our farm shop.

“The remaining butter, once formed, is washed in cold water before the sea salt is added.

“It is then brought on to a table where it is worked by hand in the traditional way with wooden pats, formed into 250 gram packs and packaged using traditional grease-proof paper.”

Aled added: “I think what makes Bodnant butter unique and has helped us win the Gold Star is it’s amazing freshness and the fact that it’s made by hand using traditional methods.

“Other producers have a more mechanised way of doing things but the way we do it gives it a fuller flavour, which is very much a taste from the past.

“In fact, that was the comment made by lots of people who tried and bought our butter at the recent Royal Welsh Show – it did so well that we completely sold out of all our stock within the first couple of days.

“People were saying that it reminded them of going to their mother’s or grandmother’s house to have bread and butter – and that’s what makes us so proud of the product.”

The Great Taste judges agreed, and said in their glowing assessment of Bodnant Butter: “It is a beautifully finished butter with a lovely natural colour.

“We loved the level of saltiness in it and it is really well balanced, with creaminess at the front of the palate.

“There is a lovely freshness to this butter that has a pleasant, salty spike.”

Bodnant managing director Chris Morton said: “Winning a gold star in a competition as highly regarded as Great Taste is a fantastic vote of confidence in our butter, which is rapidly establishing itself as one of our best loved products.

“This award is a sure sign of our continuing excellence and an independent vote of confidence in the traditional skills used in our dairy.

“I think it’s brilliant when we win honours such as this which recognise all the dedication and hard work of our team.

“We have an awful lot of highly skilled people at Bodnant and this award, which is amongst the most respected in the industry, gives them the chance to really showcase their talents to a wider audience.”

He added: “Our ability to keep on winning awards such as this also has a lot to do with the very close partnership we enjoy with local suppliers and the extremely high quality of fresh produce which is available to us here in the Conwy Valley.”

John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food and Great Taste organiser, said: “The Great Taste logo is an established and trusted mark.

“For producers it reflects their hard work and commitment to making superb tasting food and drink, and for consumers it is a recognisable, simple and clear logo that confirms they are buying the most outstanding products on the shelf.”

Bodnant’s dairy also makes ice-creams that are sold in the centre’s tearooms, Hayloft restaurant and the farm shop. Bodnant was named Welsh Retailer of the Year in the prestigious Farm Shop and Deli Awards – dubbed the industry’s Oscars.

Based in a lovingly restored building dating from the 18th century, the food centre employs more than 80 people.  It received a fanfare opening by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2012 and last year welcomed 250,000 visitors from around the globe.

More details at or call 01492 651100

Tuesday September 15th, 2015


Woman appointed to run £7 million dementia care centre in Caernarfon

new manager of Bryn Seiont Sandra Evans.

A manager has been appointed to run a new £7 million centre of excellence for people with dementia – and hundreds of others have applied for jobs there.

Sandra Evans, 36, an experienced care home manager, was inspired to apply for the position at Canolfan Bryn Seiont Newydd in Caernarfon after caring for her grandmother who has the cruel condition.

The centre is being built by award-winning care organisation Pendine Park on the site of the former Bryn Seiont community hospital and is due to open in the autumn, creating 100 new jobs in the town.

According to Pendine Park, they have been flooded with job applications from people wanting to work there.

Mother-of-three Sandra, 36, from Llanddaniel, on Anglesey, looked after her grandmother, Eleanor Burrows, 89, for several years.

She said: “The fact that I cared for my grandmother inspired me to want to care for people with dementia.

“What attracted me to Bryn Seiont was the enrichment programme using the arts in all its forms to improve the quality of life for our residents. It’s going to be an integral part of what we do.

“The residents at Bryn Seiont are going to be cared for in the same way that I would want my grandmother to be cared for. I want the residents to have the very best care, to be treated with respect, dignity and for them to feel fulfilled.”

The pioneering centre is the brainchild of Mario and Gill Kreft, the proprietors of Pendine Park who say it will be the perfect way to celebrate the organisation’s 30th anniversary.

The company already employ more than 600 people in Wrexham where they have seven care homes which cater for a variety of needs, a domiciliary care company and in-house training company.

The new bilingual centre and 16 extra care apartments to enable couples to stay together and people to stay independent will provide “world class” facilities.

Sandra, a former pupil of Ysgol David Hughes school earned an NVQ Level 2 in care at Coleg Menai college in Bangor before becoming a care assistant with Gwynedd Council and Isle of Anglesey County Council.

She then worked as a health care assistant with district nurses, helping GPs with home visits in the Caernarfon area. During that time she earned an NVQ Level 3 in care and a Level 4 Diploma.

After that she became deputy head of Plas Pengwaith Home for the Elderly in Llanberis, before becoming manager of Cartrefle care home in Llanrwst.

When she heard of the job of manager going at Bryn Seiont she jumped at the chance.

She added: “When I looked up what Mario and Gill had done at Pendine Park I was blown away with what they’re doing with their enrichment programme.

“I want people who live in Bryn Seiont to be able to live a happy and fulfilled life.

“There’s enough living space for people to be able to walk about. There are secure gardens for residents to enjoy being outdoors and to take part in gardening activities. There’s opportunity for people to live as independently as possible.

“I want the residents to be able to go out into the community as much as possible. We’re also going to have an art therapist, and a music therapist. There’ll be a huge programme of things for the residents to be able to do if they wish to.

“A month before we open the staff will begin their training which will be a full induction into the Pendine Park enrichment programme as well as all mandatory training.

“I’m looking forward to meeting new residents and getting to know them. I’m sure we’ll make a lot of friends in the community as well. We want to bring people in to visit the home, including schools.

“There’s huge need in the area for the services that Bryn Seiont provides. Not just for people with dementia, but also people with mental health problems and learning difficulties.

“It’s going to be split into units which we’re calling small houses. It will have eight houses that cater for up to nine people each.

“People will be assessed before they come and then given an appropriate home to meet their individual needs. We’ll also match the staff to the people they’ll be caring for.

“We’re going to have activities going on throughout each day, and things going on in the evenings and on weekends as well.

“Life isn’t supposed to come to a stop when people move into a care home.”

Mario Kreft is pleased to have Sandra on board.

He said: “We were looking for a very special individual who was going to buy into the Pendine Park culture, and particularly to provide high quality social care to enrich people’s lives, that is very much about the individual, and what mattered to them. I think Sandra is really qualified to be able to do that.

“It’s interesting that both she and I can recount how we became aware of social care through our grandparents. There’s something in that I think. I think if you start from the premise of how you would want your nearest and dearest to be cared for and supported. I think that makes the Pendine Park philosophy very much something that she can relate to and be part of.

“The culture of the area is very familiar to Sandra as a Welsh speaker, she’s someone who understands the importance that the arts plays in Welsh life and the community.

“I am confident we have a manager in Sandra who can really make a difference to people’s lives.”

Monday September 14th, 2015


Business is red hot at the Dangerous Food Company at Hamper Llangollen

Hamper Llangollen

One of the hottest companies around has almost quadrupled its business in a year – after putting on face masks and protective clothing to get it up and running.

The Dangerous Food Company, based in St Asaph, is now in talks with key industry player, Marks and Spencer, since unveiling its fiery chilli jams at the Hamper Llangollen food festival last year.

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It went on to increase stockists of the breath-taking products from just 25 shops to 110 across Wales and Cheshire.

Company founders, friends Dominic Haynes and Llyr Jones, have also been in talks with luxury foods retailers – including Marks and Spencer – in a bid to further spread the appeal of the unique relishes they developed in their home kitchens.

The company’s unusual name comes from the fresh chillies they use – so hot that the duo had to wear protective headgear as they went to work on developing the unique recipe.

Now with 12 months of red hot trading under their belt, they plan to return to Hamper Llangollen 2015 bringing with them tastier jams than ever.

The popular event in Llangollen’s Royal Pavilion is recognised as one of the UK’s top 10 food festivals.

Cadwyn Clwyd has provided financial support over the past few years to ensure the festival’s long term viability, this was funded through the Rural Development Fund for Wales 2007-2013, which is funded through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Welsh Government.

“We started out with just one jam, the original, but now we have five, plus a sixth recipe is in the making,” said Dominic.

He and Llyr live with their respective families, just a few yards away from each other, in St Asaph. They worked together at a North Wales dairy before launching the Dangerous Food Company.

Dominic, 32, said: “At first it started as a fun idea we had in a pub. Working in the food sector we already knew of chilli relishes on the market, but thought we could do better so we set about making our own at home.

“It took some time – and one or two disasters – to perfect our original recipe, but once we did, our families and friends loved it.

“We started selling a few jars as a hobby. Then following redundancies at the dairy, we both lost our jobs at the same time. That was when we decided to go for it and produce jams full time.”

They are allowed to call the relishes ‘jams’ because of the fruit content, though Dominic said only the very brave would want to eat these jams on toast for breakfast!

He said: “They are hot, hot, hot and spicy. But there is also a delicious fruitiness to them. It’s a lovely combination. They make a great accompaniment to savoury dishes, for barbecues, with cheese or meat, added to sauces or they can even be used to spice up a tin of baked beans.”

The range currently includes five flavours: red chilli with a hint of lime, jalapeño with bramley apple, habanero with mango, bird’s eye with morello cherry, and best seller, ghost chilli with blueberry, which is the hottest.

The pair are in the process of developing a sixth ‘secret recipe’ which they’re hoping to unveil at Hamper Llangollen 2015.

Dominic is responsible for marketing, packaging and sales while Llyr concentrates on the production side.

“We used to make all the jams ourselves but now we have an agreement with Patchwork Foods in Ruthin to use one of their units, which means we can meet strict production criteria, and still stick to our special recipes,” said Dominic.

“After a year in business we’re just glad that we’re able to keep ourselves employed and support our families, but without a doubt the pipe dream is that one day people will be able to see our jams sitting beside big luxury brands at the likes of Marks and Spencer.”

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.”

Information and tasty recipes can be found at and for more details about Hamper Llangollen 2015 visit

Thursday September 10th, 2015