Bread-and-butter star

8th December 2006 at 00:00
After a week in a hot French kitchen, cooking for a panel of judges under the glare of TV cameras, primary school teacher Jan Wilson Jones emerged last night as the winner of Chez Dudley.

The S4C TV cookery show - think Big Brother in the kitchen with people who can actually cook - ran over seven weeks with an eviction at the end of each programme. Mrs Wilson Jones, who teaches Years 3 and 4 at Ysgol Trefnant, near Denbigh, north Wales, beat off competition from seven other talented amateur Welsh chefs to win.

She now has a course at Raymond Blanc's famous cookery school, Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, to look forward to.

From the outset, the Ruthin teacher was clearly cool in the kitchen, spoke French well, but got nervous during her culinary challenges. She also giggled a lot.

"It was quite traumatic and a lot of hard work," she admits, "but I made good friends and met people I wouldn't otherwise have met."

Her class and colleagues have followed her success closely, watching as she cooked red mullet for the first time, struggled with a pestle and mortar, and tamed a bubbly bottle of champagne.

But she didn't tell anyone - except husband Rob - that she had won until all was revealed last night. Even her children Gwenno, 10, and Steffan, nine, were kept in the dark.

"I had seen the competition advertised on the Dudley show and my husband said I should enter. A bottle of red wine later, I decided I didn't have anything to lose," she admits.

"My headteacher was lovely. I work part-time and he gave me the other three days off to go to Provence. My colleagues couldn't believe it when I was chosen."

Mrs Wilson Jones, 38, won through to the heats with her favourite dish, a taste bud-seducing bread-and-butter pudding.

Taught to cook by her mother, she had also taken cookery night school classes at her local high school 10 years ago with Roux brothers-trained local chef Robert Hunter.

So does she harbour ambitions of swapping the classroom for Chez Jan one day?

"I would like to think so, maybe a little bistro or a wine bar somewhere.

It's a dream at the moment, but maybe if I win the lottery it could happen."

What is more certain is that the chocolates and biscuits she plans to make with her class for Christmas will now be heavily anticipated by the mums and dads of Trefnant.

* The Chez Dudley final is repeated on S4C on Sunday, December 10

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