CELEBRITY chef Rick Stein got a colourful welcome at a book signing in Oxford yesterday, as staff gave the occasion a suitably Spanish flavour.

Zaida Dondin, 25, originally from Madrid and now a waitress at Al-Andalus restaurant in Little Clarendon Street, entertained Mr Stein and book fans at Waterstone’s with her flamenco dancing.

More than 150 people queued up at the Broad Street store to get Mr Stein to sign copies of his book, Rick Stein’s Spain, which accompanies his new TV series.

Mr Stein, who was born in Churchill near Chipping Norton and was a student at Oxford University’s New College, described the tapas laid on by the restaurant as “really lovely”.

Mr Stein said his brother Prof John Stein taught at Magdalen College, so he came back to visit Oxford regularly.

He added: “I have been going to Spain since I was about eight and what I like about the food is its ruggedness – it has really robust flavours and colours and is quite different from French cooking.

“Tapas is the most famous aspect of Spanish cooking, but there are also some good game dishes and fish stews.

“When we make these programmes there can be a temptation to film the beautiful buildings, but we are there to focus on the food, not the architecture.”

Alison Randall, 44, from Carterton, was first in the queue, with sons Stuart, 18, and Michael, 21. She said: “Rick Stein is very approachable and makes recipes you can actually cook at home.”

Angela Jefferson, 55, who works in the development office at Wadham College, added: “I’m really looking forward to making some of the recipes.”

Waterstone’s events manager Charlie Hayes said: “We tried to create a Spanish atmosphere in the store and the signing went very well.”