Heinz has signed celebrity chef Gary Rhodes as brand ambassador as it ploughs £2m into its Amoy brand in a strategy to educate consumers in Oriental cooking and revive faltering sales.

The initiative kicks off next month with Rhodes fronting its sponsorship of the Taste of China exhibition at the annual Taste of London food festival.

He will host Oriental cooking classes to take away the "perceived complexities involved with cooking oriental food", said marketing controller Rachael Munby. At the event it will also give away limited edition bottles of soy sauce to celebrate its 100th birthday.

As well as promising a raft of NPD later this year, Amoy is co-funding Rhodes' new UKTV Food show, called Rhodes Across China. On air from next month, it features the chef travelling across China cooking regional dishes.

Last year, sales of Amoy sauces were down 4.1% to £8m, largely due to a weak sales performance by its premium line [Nielsen, 8 March 2008].