Plum Job for Top Chef in Denbigh

A top chef who trained with Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal has landed a plum job.

fAled Williams will be the star attraction at a celebration of the Vale of Clwyd’s very own gift to the season of mellow fruitfulness, the Denbigh plum.

Aled will be at this year’s Denbigh Plum Feast, on the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, November 2 and 3, when the town goes a delicate shade of purple in homage to its famous fruit.

The 31-year-old culinary star has worked at two Michelin-starred Welsh eateries, Plas Bodegroes, near Pwllheli, and Ynys Hir, near Machynlleth, before going on to win the Gordon Ramsay Scholarship.

That gave him the opportunity to work with Ramsay at his three Michelin star restaurant in London as well as two celebrated restaurants in New York.

Aled has also cooked at top restaurants in Australia, Aled had a stint at Heston Blumenthal’s famous Fat Duck, in Bray, West Berkshire, when it was considered to be the best restaurant in the world.

Aled is now back home in Wales as the Head Chef and Manager of the signature Cennin restaurant and the Moo Baa Oinc café, delicatessen and butchery, in Beaumaris, on Anglesey.

He believes passionately that food and tourism can together provide North Wales with the perfect recipe for economic success.

Aled said: “I want to make North Wales an exciting destination for food lovers.

“Our produce is amazing and that’s why I’m taking part in the Denbigh Plum Feast – it’s a native fruit from a corner of North Wales and it’s vital to preserve those signature foods.

“Welsh lamb and beef are known worldwide, so is Halen Mon, Anglesey sea salt, and Conwy mussels and the Denbigh plum should be part of that – I’m looking forward to trying it.

“We have talented chefs and fantastic food from our farms, orchards, rivers and seas so the more people who want to scream and shout about it the better. I’m on a mission to make North Wales a foodie heaven.”

Aled’s presence has been welcomed by Mario Kreft, of Plum Feast sponsors Pendine Park Care Homes, Wrexham, who said: “Aled is one of Wales’s very best young chefs and it’s great that he is plying his trade back in his native North Wales.

“We’re thrilled that he’ll be at the Plum Feast which is a wonderful celebration of local produce and we’ll be very keen to see what he comes up with for the Vale of Clwyd’s very own fruit.”

Meanwhile, Ooh La La, that native plum, first recorded in 1785 but believed to be at least 300 years old, is getting a Gallic gourmet makeover for the festival being held in its honour.

To celebrate this year’s Denbigh Plum Feast, the Chocolate Shop, on Vale Street, Denbigh, is serving up a Welsh take on a French favourite.

The Chocolate Shop’s Mark Young said: “In Gascony in the South West of France they steep Agen prunes, dried plums, in Armagnac and coat them in chocolate and we thought why not here.

“We’ve given it a Welsh twist, using dried Denbigh plums, Welsh whisky and asked our chocolatier, Aballu, from Rossett, to work their magic and we think they’re very good.

“We’ll also be using Denbigh plums to decorate our chocolate pizzas and making plum truffles too.”

Meanwhile the Denbigh plum is also trying for international recognition, according to Shelly Barratt, of Coya Marketing, who is helping organise this year’s Plum Feast.

She said: “We are seeking Protected Geographical Indication status for the Denbigh plum which is the only native Welsh plum and which has a history stretching back 300 years.

“The plums would have to be grown in Denbighshire and be an active product and then it would be up there with the other PGI products like sherry, Melton Mowbray pork pies, Bakewell tarts and Kendal mint cake.”

Denbigh will be painting the town purple for the Plum Feast with a host of activities and imaginative uses of the plum to entertain visitors, according to Nia Lloyd Jones, of arts and crafts group Rhodd Dinbych, who have helped put the event on.

She said: “On Saturday there will be lots of stands and stalls around the Town Hall and Crown Square promoting local food and produce and also arts , crafts and design.

“There are so many talented people around this area and the Plum feast will be showcasing what they do so it should be a brilliant day with lots on, everything from plum beer to plum chocolates, jam, bread and pies and lots more as well.

“There will also be a stage where local bands and musicians will play and a storytelling tent, buskers, and on Sunday there will be guided walks and children’s activities in the Castle.”

Wales’ only commercial grower of the fruit, Ian Sturrock at Lon Cytir, Bangor, will be offering advice on cultivating the tree which is available locally from Green Fingers Garden Centre, in Denbigh.

They’re ideal for gardens and are large, round, dark purple but strewn with golden dots and are much sweeter than other plums and also relatively disease free.

Cadwyn Clwyd Denbighshire Agri-Food Project Officer Robert Price said: “The events we have supported in Denbigh have proved very successful and have really showcased what the town and the area has to offer, particularly in the way of food.

“It is also very exciting to be playing a part in horticultural history by helping restore the Denbigh plum to its rightful place as a genuine native Welsh fruit tree.”

The Plum Feast kicks off on Saturday (November 2) at 9am in the town centre and goes on until 4pm.

There will be cookery and horticultural demonstrations , a hog roast with Denbigh plum sauce, and freshly baked plum bread.

There is a schools cookery competition and shop window display competition, town walks and talks, fun fairvand music with The Denbigh Stones.

A market will be selling fresh rural produce, seasonal foods, and crafts, and of course plum specials including Denbigh plum jam, plum wine, plum cake and bread, plum chutney and more. Even beauty goes plum crazy with plum hair and plum nails by Bricks Hair Studio and Double Crown.

Anyone interested in Cadwyn Clwyd’s Denbighshire Agri-Food Projects can contact Robert Price on 01824 705802 or e-mail robert.price@cadwynclwyd.co.uk