* Dai Chef will be Hamper Llangollen with his
new recipe book.
A TOP celebrity chef who wowed opera superstar Luciano Pavarotti with his culinary skills has cooked up a new recipe book.
Dai Chef will be launching the book at this year’s Hamper Llangollen food festival, which is this weekend (October 19 and 20).
He famously cooked for Pavarotti when he came to perform at the International Eisteddfod in 1995, exactly 40 years after he first came to Llangollen as part of his father's choir from Modena, in Italy.
According to Dai, who also worked at the world-famous Carlton Club in London, the 100-page volume, entitled Let the Boy Cook, is packed with “fun, food and frolics” and designed to appeal to everyone from home cooks to culinary professionals.
He explained that the book’s title is based on a saying by his late father who often declared, “Let the boy cook!” whenever his vegetarian mother was proving a little reluctant to let the young Dai come up with tasty meat dishes at the family home in Aberystwyth.
“My Dad, Danny Davies, who died 10 years ago, was always very supportive when I wanted to try out my cooking. But my mother was a vegetarian, which back then in the 1950s wasn’t very common,” said 56-year-old Dai.
“She was always a bit reluctant to let me try meat dishes but that’s when Dad would come out with that saying telling her to just let me get on with it.
“I’ve remembered it all my life and when it came to coming up with a title for the book I thought it would be just perfect.
“People have been asking me for years why I didn’t write a cookery book but I never got round to it because I was busy with other things.
“Now I’ve finally written the book and am delighted to say I’ll be launching it Hamper Llangollen, where I always love to go to do cookery demonstrations and meet old friends.”
This year's festival is being supported by the rural development agency, Cadwyn Clwyd.
Cadwyn Clwyd’s contribution came via the Rural Development Fund for Wales 2007-2013, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Welsh Government.
The event has now established itself as one of the very best in the UK.
Hamper Llangollen was named in the Top 10 food festivals in Britain by the national newspaper, The Independent.
Dai was born and raised in Aberystwyth and trained at a culinary college in Haverfordwest. He lived in Chirk for many years.
He gained his initial experience in the kitchens of some of the largest hotels in London’s West End and by the age of 21 he was the youngest chef saucier – in charge of the creation of delicious sauces – at the world famous Carlton Club in St James’s.
Later, Dai became head chef at the White Hart restaurant in Lewes, Sussex, and for a time was the personal chef of the owner of Simpson’s in The Strand, which is based in the same building as the capital’s iconic Savoy Hotel.
He then returned to Aberystwyth to run his own restaurant and during a 16-year period starting in the 1990s was head chef at the Bryn Howel Hotel in Llangollen, which is where in 1995 Dai had the unforgettable experience of cooking for Luciano Pavarotti when the legendary Italian tenor was staying there for his appearance at Llangollen International Eisteddfod.
In 1996, Dai captained the Welsh team at the Culinary Olympics when it won a bronze medal for its culinary skills, and soon afterwards he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship at Glyndwr University in Wrexham.
While he in charge of the kitchens at the Bryn Howel, Dai lived in nearby Chirk with his family and for a number of years was with Llangollen Rugby Club in the dual role as chairman and second row player.
After spell as a chef trainer – many of his pupils are now working in some of the world’s fin est restaurants – Dai took another hands-on role as chef director at the Ship Inn at Red Wharf Bay on Anglesey where he is still heading the team.
He said: “The book I’ll be launching at Hamper Llangollen later this month is a compilation of all my favourite recipes and has a very Welsh feel to it.
“Amongst the 100 or so recipes in there will be one of my signature dishes, Coracle of Llangollen Lamb. I developed it while I was at the Bryn Howel in Llangollen and it won me the Dragon Dish of the Year title in 1996.
“It uses every bit of the lamb including the sweetbreads and kidneys.
“The sweetbreads are cooked in cream and on top of them you have the loin or fillet and on the very top are faggots made from the liver and kidneys.
“I’ve also included my recipe for Cut Caws, which is goat’s cheese lightly grilled and topped with a little fresh orange chutney all set on a toasted brioche, and there’s also one for Llandegla Trout.
“The book will definitely be fun, food and frolics and by that I mean it will include some samples of my own poetry.
“It’s not heavy academic stuff, just some verses and sonnets I’ve written for family occasions such as weddings and christenings. There’s also some about St David’s Day and my beloved rugby.
“Hopefully, it will appeal to everyone from home cooks to professionals and I’m delighted to be launching it at the Llangollen food festival where I’ve been coming ever since it began.
“On the front of the book is a caricature of me, so if people don’t like it they can always put it up on their dartboard!
“I love the Llangollen event because, unlike some food festivals, it’s not in a marquee but in a proper setting with a big stage, which gives it a real sense of theatre when you’re doing cookery demonstrations.
“I also look forward to Llangollen because of all the old friends I meet there.”
Dai will be doing two cookery demonstrations on the Saturday and when he launches his book, which is priced at £9.99, he’ll be signing the first 150 sold.
Once again, he’ll be assisted by his 18-year-old Daniel, who has just back from Italy where he has finished his training in the front-of-house role of maître de’.
Colin Loughlin, chair of the local committee that runs the festival, said: "In addition ot Dai Chef, there will also be a starring role for Graham Tinsley, the star of I TV's Taste the Nation and a former captain of the Welsh Culinary Team.
"We have a wonderful array of fantastic food producers clustered in the area and the festival is the perfect shop window for them.
Hamper Llangollen 2013 is on at Llangollen International Pavilion on October 19 and 20. For more information go to: www.llangollenfoodfestival.com