A popular TV chef from Caernarfon has launched an urgent appeal to find 40 grey squirrels to create a Christmas feast with a difference.
Chris Roberts needs the furry rodents to make squirrel empanadas – fire baked turnovers consisting of pastry and filling – as part of an alternative Yule Tide spread.
The culinary extravaganza will be featured in the special festive edition of his second television series, Bwyd Epic Chris 2 (Chris’ Epic Food2), which starts on S4C on Thursday night, November 14.
Chris went from being a man who cooked on an old-fashioned spit roasting fire with his friends, without anyone watching, to overnight fame as a Facebook foodie with thousands of fans.
He became an online sensation after he posted his mouth-watering videos and recipes on Facebook and that led to his S4C debut as an alternative TV chef.
Chris was an instant hit with viewers and the second six-part series is also being made by Caernarfon-based television production company, Cwmni Da.
His outdoor cooking style and inspiration comes from his ancestors who left Wales and set up home in the Welsh colony of Patagonia in Argentina.
Once again Chris says he will be rustling up all sorts of dishes using a number of “imaginative” ingredients – including the grey squirrels.
He said: “This whole second series has been so much fun and given me the chance to showcase the amazing food we have here in Wales. I believe we have the best produce in the world right here and I’m determined to show it off.
“That’s why I want to find an alternative butcher who can supply grey squirrels for a special recipe I’m doing for the Christmas special. I’m going to be making squirrel empanadas and would prefer we use Welsh squirrels if I can find them.
“We do have an alternative butcher in England who can supply them but if I can find a Welsh butcher then that fits with the ethos of showcasing Welsh food.
“Empanadas are a type of South American pasty and are just what my ancestors who emigrated to Patagonia would have eaten. It’s still a very popular dish over there now although whether they use squirrel as opposed to lamb, I’m not really sure.”
He added: “For the Christmas special I’ll also be cooking three whole venison and wild ducks. I’ll be building a wall of fire and using Welsh hardwood, mostly oak, from Snowdonia as fuel.
“I cooked a whole cow for the first series and that took more than 24 hours. The deer are not much bigger than a sheep so it will take a fair bit less but still more than 12 hours I expect.
“The whole idea of the series is to showcase Welsh ingredients and a different style of cooking.
“For the first episode me and my mates went down onto Dinas Dinlle beach and foraged for ingredients such as samphire and sea beets. I then cooked lobsters and Menai prawns Barcelona-style.
“In the first episode I also cook ribs with a barbecue sauce made from seaweed infused rum which is different and was a lot of fun.
“And I enjoyed going to London with chef Tomos Parry, who’s been described as the hottest young chef in the UK.
“He’s a mate and he showed me his own restaurant, Brat, which is named after the old English word for the turbot fish. We then did a tour of London restaurants that cook using only open flame fires.
“When I got back I cooked a recipe in tribute to what I learned in London but using offal and mutton. Some meats that all too often go to waste, it’s important we use everything we can and far too much good food goes to waste because people don’t know what to do with it.”
But one of Chris’s most difficult challenges for the new series was making a tandoor oven out of terracotta flowerpots.
He said: “It was brilliant. I visited my local Indian take-away in Caernarfon, the Bengal Spice and learned some new cooking skills.
“I learned how to make a tandoor and set about making one at home using terracotta garden pots. It worked a treat and I cooked some lamb dishes and naam breads. Brilliant.”
He added: “The thing about the new series is it’s been really good fun. I’ve met some amazing people and we have come up with a lot of new great recopies to showcase Welsh food.
“All I need now is find out where I can get some Welsh grey squirrels for my squirrel empanada recipe and I’ll have the job and new series cracked.”