Katherine Jenkins OBE announced as Welsh chefs’ ambassador

The Culinary Association of Wales (CAW) has today announced Welsh Superstar Katherine Jenkins OBE as its first ever ambassador ahead of Wales hosting a prestigious global event for chefs in 2026.

Katherine, the UK’s most successful classical artist of the century and founder of Cygnet Gin, is taking on the role as the CAW prepares to welcome around 1,000 chefs from across the world to the Worldchefs Congress & Expo at the International Convention Centre Wales (ICC Wales) in Newport in May 2026.

In addition to being ambassador, Katherine’s partnership with the CAW promotes Cygnet Gin, the sustainable, luxury Welsh gin brand, which she and her artist and social-impact filmmaker partner, Andrew Levitas, launched in 2023.

Cygnet Gin is a CAW sponsor, and the company is devising an exciting, new competition to showcase the culinary potential of the ultra-premium spirit at the 2025 Welsh International Culinary Championships at ICC Wales in January.

Chefs will be challenged to cook up a mouthwatering three course pescatarian and dairy free menu showcasing the versatility of Cygnet Gin in each of the dishes.

Katherine and CAW president Arwyn Watkins, OBE, discussed details of the partnership during a visit to ICC Wales on St David’s Day where they recorded a video interview -

They also met Peter Fuchs, group culinary director of The Celtic Collection and ICC Wales, Danielle Bounds, ICC Wales sales director and Colin Gray, CAW vice president and chair of WICC.

The lead up to Worldchefs Congress & Expo 2026 begins in earnest later this year in Singapore, which is hosting the 2024 event from October 20-25. The congress bell will be presented to Mr Watkins who is expected to announce exciting news about an anthem for the 2026 event.

Speaking about her new ambassadorial role, Katherine said, "I'm so honoured to be an ambassador for the Culinary Association of Wales. Across my career, I'm very, very proud of being Welsh and wherever I go, I always try to fly the flag for Wales. The Culinary Association of Wales being named as hosts for the biggest ever culinary event at the ICC Wales is incredibly exciting and important.

"When I heard that this was happening, I wanted to do all that I could to help support and amplify it, get behind it and cheer it on. So, if you love food like me, this is four days of food heaven. I can't wait.

“We are so lucky in Wales - we have so much to offer, and we can offer so much to the world. I think people coming here, to the Celtic Manor and to the ICC, they're just going to be absolutely blown away by the hospitality, the warmth, the friendship, the welcome, and I hope it's the start of a lovely relationship for people.

"I'm really excited to see how the journey progresses and to be here and witness it in 2026."

Mr Watkins added, “It’s a huge coup and honour for the Culinary Association of Wales to secure Katherine as our ambassador for the Worldchefs Congress & Expo 2026. Being associated with such a global superstar is going to raise the profile of both the association and the event.

“We are looking forward to working closely with Katherine to promote Wales and Cygnet Gin to a global audience in the coming years.”

He describes securing the Worldchefs Congress and Expo for Wales as a “significant achievement” by Team Wales partners - CAW, ICC Wales, the Celtic Manor Resort and Visit Wales.

“More than 1,000 chefs from around the world are expected to attend the Worldchefs Congress & Expo 2026, in addition to around 5,000 exhibitors and visitors,” he added

“This event will raise the profile of Wales, create international networking and collaboration opportunities, enhance culinary skills by sharing knowledge and professional development and boost the Welsh economy and culinary tourism.

“Our challenge over the next two years is to engage with all sectors of the Welsh economy to highlight what a fantastic opportunity this event offers to them to promote their businesses.”

Born from the desire to break the mould in a traditionally male-dominated spirits industry, Katherine founded Cygnet Gin in a bid to create a luxury spirit that speaks to consumers who appreciates the finer things, reflecting their taste and desire to celebrate life’s successes.

As gin aficionados, Katherine and Andrew have created the multi-award-winning Cygnet Gin are on a mission to take this exceptional Welsh product to the rest of the world. The initial announcement about the arrival of Cygnet Gin made such a splash globally that pre-orders sold out in just a week.

Since launching six months ago, Cygnet Gin has exploded across the UK’s luxury restaurant and bar scene, now available at Isabel Mayfair, Searcys, The Rosewood Hotel, and across the full Caprice Group including The Ivy Collection restaurants nationwide to name but a few.

The Cygnet Gin range includes Cygnet Welsh Dry Gin, embodying Katherine’s strong passion for sustainability and perfection, and Cygnet 22, representing Katherine’s own personal expression.

The addition of 22 has special significance, reflecting the number of hand-selected botanicals used in the distillation process, as well as her age when she was offered the largest recording deal in classical music history.

Picture captions:

Katherine Jenkins, OBE and Culinary Association of Wales president Arwyn Watkins, OBE, announce her new ambassadorial role at ICC Wales.

New Culinary Association of Wales ambassador Katherine Jenkins, OBE, celebrates with Culinary Association of Wales president Arwyn Watkins OBE and vice president Colin Gray, Peter Fuchs, group culinary director of The Celtic Collection and ICC Wales and Danielle Bounds, ICC Wales sales director.

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall  – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 16 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 560,000 followers across Facebook, X, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.