Students enjoy food fit for a Queen...and the future King

Congratulations to Kevin on gaining the President's Acheivement Award by the Welsh Culinary Association for your services to the hospitality industry and culinary arts in Wales.

Lucky students are tucking in to food fit for royalty.

Kevin Williams, the new Catering and Hospitality Manager at Coleg Harlech, has cooked for the Queen and a whole host of the Royal Family, including the late Queen Mother on her 100th birthday.

He is a leading member of the award-winning Welsh National Culinary team and has worked as Head Chef for TV star Neil Morrissey when he ran a hotel in Carmarthenshire.

Kevin has big ambitions to transform the kitchens and eating experience at the college which takes in students from all over Wales and offers full time, part time and short courses.

During the very short time he has been there, he has already established a kitchen garden and transformed the menu to the delight of both staff and students.
Unsurprisingly, takings at the college bistro have rocketed and he hopes his plans, which include improvements at the college’s self catering accommodation nearby, will create around 10 new jobs for the area.

Kevin, 36, who is also secretary of the Welsh Culinary Association, hopes to extend the existing kitchen and cafe and turn them into teaching resources for both students and the wider community.

A father-of-two, who was born and raised in Carmarthen, he said: “My ambition is to turn the cafe’s kitchen into a proper, fully fitted out, teaching kitchen where students can learn while also producing fantastic menus using locally sourced produce for staff, students and visitors to enjoy.”

While the bistro will remain the main eaterie for the college, Kevin is also hoping to use the space to carry on teaching well after lessons have finished for the day.
He said: “My aim is to hold evening master classes here for people from outside the college to be able to take part in."

With such fantastic views across Cardigan Bay and the Irish Sea, Kevin is also considering the college’s suitability as a wedding venue.

Kevin has already hosted a themed culinary evening to fit in with a performance of Madame Butterfly being staged at the college.

Kevin said: “We had 40 people take up the offer of food as well and we did sushi and wonton to fit in with the theme of the evening.”
Kevin’s catering career began when he joined the navy as a chef from school aged 16.

He worked mainly aboard aircraft carrier ships such as the Ark Royal and Illustrious but also aboard HMS Fearless, the last steamship in the navy fleet.

He said: “I have cooked for the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Princes William and Harry, most of the immediate royal family really.”
“I was one of 100 chefs from across the UK who cooked for the Queen Mother for her 100th birthday banquet. I was one of the team who put together the starter - a fish terrine with her favourite fish in it, sea bass and trout – and we all received a medal for our efforts.”

He was also a member of the Welsh National Culinary team who cooked a special feast for the Prince Charles at Caerphilly Castle in 2008 to make the 50th anniversary of becoming the Prince of Wales.

Keeping up his royal connections, Kevin’s wedding cake for his nuptials next year to fiancée Sian Court, Curriculum Leader for the Social Studies programme at Coleg Harlech, will be made by Sally Owens, who is also a Pastry Chef with the Welsh culinary team.

Sally made the headlines earlier this year when she baked and decorated a metre high rich fruit cake for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who took up the offer from Welsh National Culinary Team manager, Graham Tinsley, to create a special cake to celebrate their marriage. It took around 300 hours to make and cost around £3,500 and was later given to Centrepoint, a charity for young homeless people of which Prince William is patron.

Kevin said: “Sally has very kindly offered to do our cake as a gift for our wedding and we decided that if it was good enough for William and Kate, then it was probably good enough for us!”

A Welsh speaker, Kevin has appeared regularly on S4C’s Wedi 7 programme and worked for Neil Morrissey when the well known actor and heart throb owned the luxury hotel and spa, Hurst House in Laugharne, Carmarthenshire.

But his busy career took an unexpected turn in 2005 when Kevin had a head on collision with an oil tanker, miraculously surviving the crash which left him in a wheelchair for two years.
“I broke, my arms, my hips, my legs. It was a horrific accident and it took a nine hour operation to put me back together. I was incredibly lucky to survive but it put me out of action for about two and a half years.”

Determined to make the best of the situation and fed up of long periods stuck at home, he saw an advert for a part time catering lecturer which inspired him to study for his PGCE teaching qualification.

His teaching qualifications and impressive chef CV made him the obvious choice for Coleg Harlech.

Kevin said: “I am really pleased to be starting this new challenge at Coleg Harlech and it is important to me to make the bistro a success both financially and from a foodie point of view too.

"Cooking is without doubt one of the most important things a person can ever learn. Once someone has that knowledge, they're set for life.
“One thing life has taught me is that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it!”