A baker who trained with culinary legend Raymond Blanc is about unveil the UK’s most expensive loaf – made with champagne and 24 carat gold.
Robert Didier will be launching the new golden bread – which will sell for £25 a loaf – at the Hamper Llangollen food festival later this year on October 18-19.
According to Robert, he’s reviving a centuries old tradition when exotic ingredients in bread were a status symbol for the lord of the manor.
As an added bonus, he says, the edible gold reputedly also has health benefits.
Robert, whose French father was a chef, began his working life at Raymond Blanc’s bakery and patisserie, Maison Blanc, in Oxford, which supplied Harrods and many top London restaurants with authentic French bread and patisseries.
Following a stint in the kitchen at Blanc’s double Michelin starred restaurant, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, in the Oxfordshire village of Great Milton, he then went stay in the Valence region of the south of France with his grandmother while working as a second chef in a bakery and patisserie, before returning to the UK a year later.
Robert’s Wrexham-based company, Orchard Pigs, started out making a range of handmade pies and pastries – including their trademark Tractor wheel pie, using local free range produce.
Two years ago he went back to his first love and launched a range of artisan breads at Hamper Llangollen where he has been a regular for many years.
The 2014 festival is being supported by the rural development agency, Cadwyn Clwyd.
Cadwyn Clwyd’s contribution comes via the Rural Development Fund for Wales 2007-2013, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Welsh Government.
This year Robert will be the baker with the golden touch.
He explained: “The golden bread we’re launching at Hamper Llangollen is a homage to real quality bakers in the 1500s.
“In those days the baker of the palace or the manor house would be expected to produce loaves of bread that reflected the status of the lord or the king so lots of interesting ingredients were included.
“What we’re unveiling is a bread with a champagne starter, and then it has 24 carat gold flakes through the loaf, so you can’t get more opulent than that.
“The gold flakes are edible and are used in medicine. Herbalists believe it’s everything from an aphrodisiac to giving better circulation.
“The golden bread is not something you would necessarily want every day but for a special occasion it’s got a bit of wow factor to it.”
At the other end of the spectrum, Robert also sells high quality artisan bread at £1 a loaf which will also be on sale at the food festival.
He usually makes around 2,000 loaves a week which are sold at markets in Mold, Machynlleth and Neston but Hamper Llangollen is one of his favourite events.
Robert added: “Hamper Llangollen is fantastic and it’s not difficult to see why it was named last year as one of the Top 10 food festivals in the UK.
“Most of the people who go there are local and the producers are local, so it’s always a good showcase for us.”
Also starring at Hamper Llangollen 2014 will be two of Wales’s top chefs.
Graham Tinsley, the star of ITV’s Taste the Nation and a former captain of the Welsh Culinary Team, will be joined in the show kitchen by the ever popular Dai Chef, who is now based at Bodnant Welsh Food, the centre of excellence for Welsh food in the Conwy Valley.
Cadwyn Clwyd’s Agri Food Officer, Robert Price, believes this year’s festival is going to be one of the best ever.
He said: “Thanks to a whole host of indigenous companies like Orchard Pigs, North East Wales is rapidly establishing a reputation as a centre of excellence for high quality cuisine.
“The food festival is a perfect shop window for the companies who form the backbone of our rural economy.
“The location of the Pavilion is absolutely spectacular – I can’t imagine that any other food festival in the UK has a more beautiful setting.”
For more information about Orchard Pigs go to www.orchardpigs.co.uk