Top som­me­lier Dan re­turns to his roots

Caernarfon Herald - - NEWS -

ONE of the UK’s youngest head som­me­liers, who has served stars like Sir Tom Jones and Cold­play front­man Chris Martin, will be shar­ing his wine ex­per­tise with visi­tors to the Llan­gollen Food Fes­ti­val.

It will be quite the fam­ily af­fair for Dan Davies, 22, will be join­ing his fa­ther, fes­ti­val stal­wart Dai Chef, who will also be as­sisted by younger chil­dren Me­gan, 12, and El­lis, seven, for a cook­ery demon­stra­tion.

The event, which is cel­e­brat­ing its 20th an­niver­sary this year, has been named as one of the Top 10 food fes­ti­vals in the UK by the Daily Tele­graph and In­de­pen­dent news­pa­pers, and is be­ing held at the iconic Llan­gollen Pavil­ion on Satur­day and Sun­day, Oc­to­ber 14 and 15.

A for­mer pupil of Ys­gol David Hughes, in Me­nai Bridge, Dan trained at Co­leg Llan­drillo, in Rhos-on-Sea, where he picked up Stu­dent of the Year.

He is cur­rently head som­me­lier at the twoMiche­lin starred What­ley Manor Ho­tel, in the Cotswolds, and has also served two of the big­gest names in the culi­nary world - Miche­lin­starred chef He­ston Blu­men­thal and the queen of cakes, Mary Berry.

Now, he is look­ing for­ward to re­turn­ing home to North Wales and help­ing visi­tors dis­cover some ex­cit­ing home­grown wines.

He grew up at­tend­ing the Llan­gollen Food Fes­ti­val and, although he wasn’t old enough to re­mem­ber, he met leg­endary oper­atic tenor Lu­ciano Pavarotti in 1995.

At the time, his dad was work­ing at the nearby Bryn Howel Ho­tel and spent a week as the opera su­per­star’s per­sonal chef when the singer made an emo­tional re­turn to the Eisteddfod, 40 years af­ter he had first com­peted there as a 19-yearold mem­ber of the Cho­rus Rossini choir, from Mo­dena, Italy, in 1955.

Daniel said: “I don’t re­mem­ber see­ing Pavarotti but I’ve seen the photos of me in my chef whites stand­ing next to my dad!

“It’ll be nice to come up. I’m look­ing for­ward to hav­ing a bit of fun and speak­ing about wine.

“I’ll be match­ing wines to dad’s meals - they will be a se­lec­tion of Welsh and English wines.

“Hope­fully peo­ple will dis­cover some new wines and see what we’re ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing in Bri­tain, which is high-qual­ity wine.”

Daniel has been by his dad’s side most of his life, but was never des­tined to fol­low in his foot­steps as a chef.

He said: “I wanted to be an air traf­fic con­troller when I was 16. I was learn­ing to fly but never ended up get­ting my pi­lot’s li­cence.

“I was al­ways in the kitchen with my dad, which funded my fly­ing at the time.

“He sat me down one day and said why not think about do­ing hos­pi­tal­ity, you’re good at it.”

Daniel, who went on to study cater­ing and hos­pi­tal­ity at Co­leg Llan­drillo Cymru, moved on to the five-star Clive­den House Ho­tel, in Berk­shire, where he was in­tro­duced to the wine pro­fes­sion – and has never looked back.

Work­ing as a som­me­lier since 2013 has re­sulted in Daniel rub­bing shoul­ders with some very high-pro­file peo­ple.

“Sir Tom Jones was a reg­u­lar at Stovells - a Mex­i­can res­tau­rant that I worked at in Sur­rey,” he ex­plains.

“He must have come in five or six times. He wasn’t a big drinker, but he al­ways knew what he wanted.

“I’ve also served He­ston Blu­men­thal and Mary Berry. He­ston had re­ally good knowl­edge and liked to chat. He’s more into his clas­si­cal wines.

“Then there was an oc­ca­sion when we had Chris Martin at the Clive­den.

“I try not to in­ter­act too much be­cause they’re in their bub­ble and want to en­joy their night.

“I don’t re­ally think too much about the fact they’re fa­mous. I’m in pro­fes­sional work mode and treat ev­ery guest the same.”

Phil Davies, a mem­ber of the com­mit­tee at Llan­gollen Food Fes­ti­val, said: “We’re de­lighted Dan is re­turn­ing to Llan­gollen Food Fes­ti­val where he’ll be join­ing his dad, the ever-pop­u­lar Dai Chef, and his fam­ily for a culi­nary master­class.

“With a record num­ber of around 120 stall-hold­ers, this year’s fes­ti­val promises to be the big­gest and the best yet.

“I can’t wait” ● To find out more about Llan­gollen Food Fes­ti­val, go to www.llan­gol­len­food­fes­ti­val.com

● Head som­me­lier Dan Davies will be shar­ing his ex­per­tise at Llan­gollen Food Fes­ti­val, and, in­set, at last year’s event with dad Dai Chef

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