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Wales hospitality event the launchpad to hosting Worldchefs Congress 2026

Welsh Culinary Association National Chef of Wales Competition at the ICC Wales. Picture by Phil Blagg Photography.

This year’s Welsh International Culinary Championships (WICC), held at the International Convention Centre Wales (ICC Wales), Newport, was the launchpad to hosting the Worldchefs Congress and Expo at the venue in May, 2026.

Organised by the Culinary Association of Wales (CAW), the three-day WICC moved to ICC Wales for the first time, having previously been held in North Wales.

CAW president Arwyn Watkins, OBE, declared the event a success and is confident that it will grow in its new venue to become a Welsh hospitality hub for three days every January.

He said the WICC 2024 was the start of the lead up to the Worldchefs Congress and Expo 2026, which will attract 1,000 chefs from around the globe to Wales. It will be the first time the huge Worldchefs event has been held in the UK.

“I believe that moving the WICC in 2024 has been the correct decision for all stakeholders and look forward to continuing to work with them so that we can deliver an outstanding congress,” he added.

“The WICC will become an annual hospitality hub open to the public and hospitality trade, showcasing Welsh food, drink, hospitality and skills over three days and providing a real opportunity to have a conversation with the industry.”

He thanked all sponsors and stakeholders for supporting the WICC and looked forward to seeing even more entries in 2025.

Mr Watkins also had a special ‘thank you’ for Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths. “I need to put on record that without the unwavering support provided by you and your officials, we would not have secured the bid to host the Worldchefs Congress and Expo in May 2026,” he told her.

The Minister congratulated all the competitors. “This has been the biggest hospitality and skills event ever held here and the start of the journey to the Worldchefs Congress and Expo 2026 at ICC Wales,” she said.

The event brought together chefs, craft butchers and front of house staff to compete in three days of competitions, including the Skills Competition Wales hospitality finals.

The WICC best college award went to Coleg y Cymoedd who had 12 students competing at the three-day event. The college’s medal haul included one gold, seven silver, 11 bronze and four best in class.

Kevin Hall, catering and hospitality lecturer, said: “It has been an amazing event and the best thing has been having a bus full of smiling students.

“We really enjoy bringing new students to competitions and seeing them grow every year. They are the future of the catering industry.”

The award for best open live class went to Emily Keane from Coleg Ceredigion while the Ecolab for the competitor demonstrating best standard of hygiene went to Leo Luke from Pembrokeshire College.

Ed Wilkins, Ecolab’s district manager, said: “I have really enjoyed the three days of competitions and the hygiene standards have been fantastic. 

“It has been very pleasing to see the students and younger chefs focus on good hygiene. It has been a privilege to be a judge and to be part of this event.”

The WICC 2024 incorporated the hospitality classes for Skills Competition Wales (SCW) for the first time. SCW aims to raise the profile of skills in Wales and is part of the Welsh Government funded Inspiring Skills Excellence Programme.

Students, trainees and apprentices were given a chance to challenge, benchmark and raise their skills by taking part in competitions across a range of sectors.

“Bringing all these competitions together in one place is fantastic news for the hospitality network in Wales,” added Mr Watkins. “Chefs, hospitality businesses, colleges and skills providers now know that these competitions will be held at the same time every year in future.”

Organised by the CAW, the WICC’s headline sponsors are the Welsh Government, Castell Howell, Hybu Cig Cymru / Meat Promotion Wales, ICC Wales, Cambrian Training Company, Kentaur, Churchill, MCS Technical Products, Roller Grill, Radnor Hills, Dick Knifes, Cygnet Gin, Capital Cuisine, Ecolab, City & Guilds and Compass Cymru.

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