To celebrate the 2018 Welsh ‘Year of the Sea’ – the North East Wales Tourism Team laid down the challenge to local eateries to devise a dish that would celebrate the regions amazing coastline, epic inland waterways and great local produce.

Twelve restaurants and cafes in the region are serving up their interpretations of the classic fish & chips (but with a twist!) or their surf & turf dishes – all taking inspiration from the ‘Year of the Sea’ theme and working with local producers where possible.

The challenge has been backed by the Welsh Governments Regional Tourism Engagement Fund (RTEF) following the success of food challenges in previous years (…think back to the NE Wales Pie Challenge in 2017 and the Wrexham Burger Challenge in 2015!)

Restaurants taking part have to serve their dish up on a special board until 11th February – and during this time, they’ll be expected to promote the Year of the Sea through their dish and each will receive two mystery diners who will rate the dish on presentation and taste, plus the awareness of the Year of the Sea amongst staff.

Following this, the three highest scoring businesses will then go head to head in a cook off on 16th February – after which a winning dish will be selected.  The winning team will receive a trophy, along with the chance to serve up their dish at food festivals later in the year and feature in national press about Wales’ food scene.

Speaking about the challenge, Destination Manager at Denbighshire County Council Peter McDermott, part of the North East Wales Team added;

“It’s fantastic to see a wide variety of entries again this year – and further highlights the superb level of creativity of our chefs in North East Wales along with the availability of great local produce!  We really hope that over the next month, diners across the region and those visiting the area enjoy trying new places and give the Year of the Sea dish a try in each venue”.

Business taking part in the 2018 Year of the Sea, Seafood Challenge are;

  1. Gales Llangollen (surf and turf dish will be Pen y Lan pork belly, saffron mash, American sauce, langoustine, and quails egg)


  1. Old Wives Tales Corwen (‘Welsh Pork and Shells’ – Marinated pork, pan seared with garlic and ginger. A medley of shellfish, sweated in white wine, on a bed of rustic home cut chips, fried in rapeseed oil. Presented in a pot and sprinkled with parsley and coriander)


  1. Fat Boar Mold (Prosciutto wrapped pork tenderloin, smoked paprika, prawn & chorizo risotto, buttered kale, prawn bisque)


  1. Druid Inn (‘OMC! Oh My Cod’ – Cod Supreme, Parmentier Potatoes, Pea Puree, Batter Scraps & Malt Vinegar Caramel.


  1. Fat Boar Wrexham (18oz bone in Celtic pride ribeye, giant crab claws, Perl las sauce. Crispy Spiralized Covent Garden potato, Anglesey salted roast tomato and Wrexham lager battered onion rings)
  2. Lot 11 (Reef and Beef Open Sandwich – Griddled Rump Steak, Sautéed Mushrooms, Lemon Dressed Prawns + Basil Mayonnaise on Toasted Sourdough)


  1. Croes Howell ( posh “fish and chips” – cod fillet wrap in crispy potato. Pea and mint purée, aerated tartare sauce, prosecco batter scraps and lemon crisp)


  1. Royal Oak Bangor on Dee (surf & slurp – a winter hearty dish that will warm you up from the inside. Braised Pork & Mussels)


  1. Lemon Tree Wrexham (fish and chips with a twist – Paprika seared cod loin, trio of vegetable chips A variety of peas and a warm lemon and tartar cream sauce)
  2. Holt Lodge (Our name is Chip n Fin –  The dish will be served in newspaper made in the shape of a boat which reflects the sea theme. The newspaper will be headlined by The Leader (Wrexham based) and include some hot off the press stories all based around Wales and include some quirky captions such as There’s No Plaice Like Holt Lodge. In the boat will be served haddock, plaice and mussels.

The dish will be served with Posh Peas and will be a take on French Peas, so they are being called Peas de Gallois, which means peas of Wales. The peas will be cooked with leeks, bacon lardons, gen lettuce & garlic butter).

  1. Hafod Restaurant, Coleg Cambria, Wrexham – (Surf & Turf); Duo of Llyfasi lamb, salt cod brandade, spring greens, cockle sauce vierge finished with a rosemary and red currant jus.


12. The Alyn, Rossett – Salmons got Sole. The dish consists of battered Salmon and Sole Chunky Chips held in a Bale of Potato String Pea Puree and Lemon Gel, Garnished with Charred Lemon and Pea Shoots.


  1. Chefs from the participating restaurants at the launch event – Holt Lodge Hotel, Wed 10th January 2018.

Photography of each dish & team will be available from Thursday 18th January.


Opportunities exist for interviews with any venue – please contact for availability and dish samples.

The cook-off is open for press coverage & chef / organiser interviews from 11.00am on Friday 16th February 2018.  Judging starts at 12.30pm through until 2.00pm.

What is the Year of the Sea?

In 2018 we are celebrating Wales’ outstanding coastline, and inviting visitors to discover new epic experiences all around our shores, with special events and attractions throughout the year.

It builds on the success of the

  • Year of Adventure 2016 which focused on adrenaline fuelled, literary and culinary adventure
  • Year of Legends 2017 which celebrated Wales’ past, present and future

Year of the Sea 2018 continues our work challenging the perceptions of Wales by promoting

  • our world-class products, events and experiences,
  • our people, places and practices

…in fact everything that makes Wales a distinctive place to visit.

What is regional tourism engagement funding?

A grant of £40,000 from Welsh Government’s Regional Tourism Engagement Fund (RTEF) has been secured to highlight North East Wales’ tourism offer, part of which funds this event to support local restaurants.

Lead partner Denbighshire County Council together with Wrexham County Borough Council and Flintshire County Council have joined forces to run a ‘Routes to the Sea’ project during Visit Wales’ themed Year of the Sea in 2018 and have been successful in the funding from Welsh Governments’ Regional Tourism Engagement Fund 2017-2019.