A team of Welsh chefs battled through the snow to deliver the true flavour of Wales to a St David’s Day reception hosted by Prime Minister Theresa May at 10 Downing Street.
Seven chefs from the Culinary Association of Wales (CAW) were invited to prepare savoury and sweet canapes for 250 VIP guests from business, tourism, sport and media at the 10, Downing Street reception organised by Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns, MP for the Vale of Glamorgan.
The team was led by Michael Bates, executive head chef at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport and included CAW president Arwyn Watkins, Mike Ramsden, Chris Bason and Ioan Lewis, all from Cambrian Training Company, Welshpool, Colin Gray, managing director of Capital Cuisine, Caerphilly and Danny Burke, co-owner of Olive Tree Catering, Hawarden. They were accompanied by Glenn Lewis, the Celtic Manor Resort’s food and beverage director.
The savoury canapes were Welsh rarebit- balsamic, beetroot, Perlas tartlet and Halen Mon black garlic ketchup, pulled Celtic Pride beef with Danzy Jones glaze,
Penclawdd cockle, Wye smoked salmon, fritter and lava bread mayo.
The sweet canapes were Hilltop Honey mini pancakes, rhubarb compote and crushed honeycomb and Welsh cake with strawberry gel and Welsh clotted cream.
Welsh food and drink suppliers were also invited to showcase their products at the event, including Welsh whisky from Penderyn, wine from Glyndwr Vineyard and Welsh produce from Cwm Farm Charcuterie.
Because European Council president Donald Tusk was visiting for Brexit talks and a lunch, the Welsh chefs were unable to use the kitchens at 10, Downing Street and instead moved their preparations next door to No 11.
“We were allowed into 10, Downing Street at 2pm, served our canapes and were on the road back to Wales by 5pm,” said Bates. “We were all proud to represent Wales and it was an amazing experience to showcase our nation’s food.
“Everybody seemed to enjoy the canapes and we had very good feedback from the Prime Minister, Alun Cairns and officials. The Prime Minister had a chat with each team member and congratulated us for making the effort to travel to London to put on a great reception
“It was a shame that the weather prevented many of the invited guests from attending the reception, but we achieved what we had set to do.”
The team’s homeward journey was challenging in treacherous driving conditions, as the motorway was littered with sliding and abandoned cars and jack-knifed lorries. “We were very fortunate to arrive back at the Celtic Manor for 8.45pm,” added Bates.
The Prime Minister said: “Tonight, let’s celebrate the very best of Welsh life and, of course, the very best of Welsh food and drink!
“Every year, millions of people are seeing for themselves just how much Wales has to offer. That includes myself and my husband, who are regular visitors to Snowdonia. We love to go walking there.”
Mr Cairns said: “Today’s reception is all about celebrating everything that Wales has to offer to the world and there is indeed much to celebrate.
“We are a proud nation and a special part of the United Kingdom. We have Welsh entrepreneurs, inventors and creative people leaving an indelible mark all around the globe, each overseeing Wales’ tremendous renaissance in sport, cuisine, arts and business.”