A chef who has cooked for the Queen, along with sporting, Hollywood and political royalty, is helping a Llanfihangel-founded food firm grow.
Colin Gray, former President of the Culinary Association of Wales, has teamed up with the producers of Blodyn Aur, an extra virgin oil made from Welsh-grown crops, on a new range of dressings.
They are now expecting a surge in sales - with the initial batch of 400 bottles snapped up by foodies in just one weekend.
Blodyn Aur already produces more than 35,000 bottles every year of its golden rapeseed oil, which is cold-pressed on the Conwy farm of Llŷr Jones, using bee-friendly crops grown across North Wales.
Colin, who runs award-winning Caerphilly company Capital Cuisine, is a long-time fan of the oil and regularly uses it in dishes at events, such as a recent fund-raising dinner for 700 with the Scarlets.
He found customers loved his dressings made from Blodyn Aur oils, which are served up at pubs and restaurants across the UK through Capital Cuisine’s food supply contracts. So Colin has gone into production with Llŷr to make a new range of dressings for sale at retail outlets - balsamic vinegar, beetroot and thyme plus honey and mustard.
Blodyn Aur’s products are already on sale at Sainsbury’s and Asda along with farm shops, delis and independent retail outlets around the UK.
Llŷr, from Derwydd farm in the village of Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr high in the North Wales hills near the Clocaenog Forest, founded Blodyn Aur - which means Golden Flower in Welsh - with farming colleagues Bryn Jones and Medwyn Roberts.
He said: “Our rapeseed oil is getting more and more popular, and we have already added a range of flavoured oils, including Welsh oak smoked, chilli and garlic.
“However, we realised that there was a wider market of home cooks who would be interested in ready-made dressings, which are quick and easy to use for salads or to flavour dishes such as cous cous and other grains.
“Together with Colin we tried out a variety of different dressings and got a great response from everybody who tasted them. We have settled on ones that Colin and our retail partners tell us that there is a demand for - and which we like the taste of.
”I grow around 35 acres of rape here on the farm, plus we have farms growing for us near Ruthin, Mold and Flint. Our vision is to have a bottle of Blodyn Aur on all kitchen worktops in Wales.”
Colin, who runs the company with his sons Daniel and Stuart plus son-in-law Dewi at their base in Bedwas near Caerphilly, also uses Blodyn Aur oils when creating dishes for pop-up restaurants at major open-air events such as the Hay Festival, the National Eisteddfod, Urdd and Royal Welsh Show.
The chef, who has picked up Great Taste and True Taste of Wales awards for his creations, has cooked for the Queen four times - when she visited the National Assembly for Wales - plus Hollywood actor Catherine Zeta Jones, other celebrities and sports stars.
The increased output of oil will also have a spin-off for the farming world - as the rapeseed husk residue from pressings is turned into pellets. This high-protein feed, known as rapemeal, is fed to hill cattle and sheep, said Llŷr.
For more details on Blodyn Aur and the new dressings visit www.madryn.co.uk
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