Welsh Country is the pan Wales magazine that is essential reading for those that are passionate about the countryside of Wales, Welsh Food, Arts in Wales, Welsh Property, the history of Wales and its people, lifestyle, gardening and much more...
Kevin Williams, the Manager of Catering and Hospitality at Coleg Harlech, received the ultimate accolade from the Welsh Culinary Association of which he is a leading member.
Kevin, 37, was given the President's Achievement Award for Services to the Hospitality Industry and Culinary Arts in Wales.
While in the Royal Navy, the happy-go-lucky dad of two worked mainly aboard aircraft carriers such as the Ark Royal and Illustrious, but also aboard HMS Fearless, the last steamship in the navy fleet, along with the Royal Yacht before it was decommissioned.
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 part 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."
The royal connections don't end there. The tiered wedding cake to celebrate his forthcoming marriage to his long-term partner, Sian, is being created by their friend, Sally Owens, who made Prince William and Kate Singleton's fabulous Royal Wedding cake.
Kevin, who took on the role at Coleg Harlech last September, was "surprised but delighted" to receive the award from the Association of which he is a director and National Secretary.
He said, "I'm really thrilled with the honour but have to say there are people more deserving than me. It's 12 years since I left the Navy and it's been quite tough getting used to Civvy Street."
Then in July 2005 life got even tougher when a car crash left him with multiple injuries which he was fortunate to survive. Kevin said, "I was very lucky indeed. I collided head-on with a fuel tanker at Tabor, Gwynedd, on the A487 on July 13th, 2005. I broke both legs, both arms, my pelvis, knees and had to undergo eight weeks of artificial skin grafts on my lower legs. I was in hospital for three months. Looking back at pictures of the accident and how I was, Sian and I wonder how I survived. I'm fine now, other than one leg is shorter than the other. It can be sorted out with more surgery but it's a big job and would mean about 10 months off work.
"The trouble is I'm too busy at the moment and too excited about the challenges at Coleg Harlech. And I am looking forward to tying the knot with Sian in a few months. We have two children - Logan 10 and Liana 16 - so I suppose it's about time!"
And with Royal Wedding Cake maker Sally Owens in charge, their own wedding cake will be a spectacular creation. Kevin said, "It will be definitely very different. I have known Sally a good while and asked her to do our cake before she was commissioned by Prince William and Kate Middleton. Of course I met Prince William and his brother Harry along with Princess Diana and Prince Charles on the Royal Yacht. I was lucky enough to meet just about all the senior Royals at one time or another. It was a real privilege to work on the Royal Yacht. I really enjoyed it and when we weren't in the galley preparing meals we were cleaning brass and polishing on deck. That's when you'd normally see the Royals, when they came on deck for fresh air.
"Princess Diana was such an incredibly beautiful and charismatic woman but every member of the Royal Family I met was nice. They have very definite likes when it comes to food. Prince Phillip would always want beef stews or pies, while the Queen would invariably opt for a light fish dish.
"I had a wonderful career in the Royal Navy and saw a great deal of the world. My favourite places were always the Scandinavian countries such as Norway or Sweden although I do like the Mediterranean too."
Having come out of the Royal Navy, Kevin worked at Anthony Worrall Thompson's restaurant Whiz, in Notting Hill, and Brian Turner's Knightsbridge Kitchen.
A Welsh speaker, Kevin appeared regularly on S4C's Wedi 7, Wedi 3 and Uned 5 programmes and worked for Neil Morrissey when the well-known actor and heart throb owned the luxury hotel and spa Hurst House in Laugharne, Carmarthenshire.
Kevin also graced the kitchens of Dolserau Hall at Dolgellau and Portmeirion before finally taking over as Catering and Hospitality Manager at Coleg Harlech. He said, "It's a fantastic opportunity. The Principal is very supportive as are all the staff and governors. I feel they are fully behind me and my ideas to create a new kitchen. I want to develop a new restaurant on site which Harlech can be proud of. We also want to deliver the Jamie Oliver B.Tech qualification in home cooking for local people. We won't be doing anything complicated, just simple, delicious home cooking using locally sourced produce – to get the community more involved.
"I'm very excited about the future and winning this award from the Welsh Culinary Association is a real bonus and I can't begin to say how delighted I am."
President of the Welsh Culinary Association, Peter Jackson says Kevin is an inspiration to everyone he works alongside and is thoroughly deserving of the award. He said, "It's brilliant to be able to honour someone like Kevin. He works so hard and is a real inspiration. He acts as national secretary to the Association and goes far beyond what is expected of him, a great asset to Coleg Harlech for sure and a credit to his profession.
"Of course, the way he fought back to full health after his horrific accident is testament to the type of man he is. He never allowed his injuries to get him down and came out of it even stronger, if anything. He is a wonderful, talented young chef and I am delighted to have presented him with his richly deserved award."
On the evening of the awards ceremony, Kevin dedicated his achievement to his mother, Diane, who sadly passed away in late 2009. He said, "Mum showed interest and enthusiasm for what I did in my work and free time. I gained a lot from her – and still do, so the award is for her also with lots of love and thanks for each day that goes by".