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Chef James works his magic to help create Welsh butcher’s best banger

Head Chef James Williams and Natalie Bestwick, of Edwards the Welsh Butcher, with the new sausages at Llandudno’s Imperial Hotel. Picture Mandy Jones

A top chef who has cooked for sporting royalty has worked his magic on a new sausage for Wales’s best-known butcher.

James Williams, 28, joint head chef at Llandudno’s award-winning Imperial Hotel has been working with the development team at Edwards the Welsh Butcher on their new range of gluten-free sausages.

They reckon they’ve come up with a winner thanks to input from James who has cooked for some of the world’s best snooker players including current and seven-time world champion, Ronnie O’Sullivan.

He and other top snooker stars have stayed at the four-star Imperial on the town’s historic seafront as nearby Venue Cymru has hosted major tournaments for the last seven years.

Edwards managing director Simon James is another regular guest at the hotel where the two AA Rosette kitchen serves up over 500 breakfast bangers a week, supplied directly by the Conwy-based firm.

He recruited James as a consultant and he and Product Development Manager Natalie Bestwick have been working towards porky perfection.

James, 28, from Llandudno, who trained at Coleg Llandrillo, said: “I was contacted by Simon and they’ve been sending me boxes of sausages to cook and I and the staff here have been sampling them.

“We go on taste and texture and how they cook and I’ve been providing feedback because going gluten-free is very popular these days but it does change the makeup of the product and how it cooks.

“We put our sausages in the oven and then finish them in the grill and we believe the team at Edwards have got a really top product now with a good texture and the spice mix they are using really brings out the flavour.”

Getting it right is vitally important – Edwards the Welsh Butcher products are stocked by all the major supermarkets in Wales and their sausages are the cornerstone of that business.

More Edwards sausages will be sizzling on Welsh barbecues this weekend than any other brand and the firm, which makes 40 million of them a year at their production facility just outside Conwy, want to keep it that way.

Natalie said: “We use premium pork shoulder for quality and it’s all Red Tractor assured but the actual spice mix we use is a trade secret and we’ve tweaked it a little to make sure the taste is right.

“They also have the seal of approval from our chairman, Ieuan Edwards, who founded the business and who has sign-off on all our company’s products.

“They were officially launched at the Royal Welsh Show and everyone enjoyed them there they’re now out in the shops and supermarkets and we’re getting a lot of really good feedback.”

James added that the Imperial were now taking two deliveries a week as Llandudno hits peak season and he added: “We are big fans of using local produce and are happy to pay a bit more for it because quality is important to us and that goes for the sausages too.”

Ieuan Edwards opened his business in 1983 on Conwy High Street, where the firm still has a shop in addition to their production headquarters just outside the town.

Since 2004 their products have been stocked by all the major supermarkets in Wales and increasingly into England as well while the original butcher’s shop was crowned Best Butchers Shop in the UK in 2014 and has since three times been crowned Best Butchers Shop in Wales.