A chef who is rapidly rustling himself up a reputation as the caterer to the stars will be setting taste buds tingling at this year’s Llangollen Food Festival.
Over the past few years Tim Roberts has served up his mobile feasts of Spanish and Italian dishes to hungry diners at a host of major entertainment events.
And he’s also become the chef of choice to celebs such as opera legend Alfie Boe and presenters from TV antiques show Bargain Hunt including Eric Knowles.
On Saturday and Sunday October 14 and 15 he’ll once again be setting up his stand at the food festival named by the Daily Telegraph and the Independent newspapers as one of the Top 10 in the UK.
Tim, 43, served his apprenticeship with his family business of Eric Roberts butchers in Oswestry, Shropshire, before taking a job with a travel company working in countries across Europe.
He said: “I initially went out there to put up and take down holidaymakers’ tents but I soon got into doing the cooking for groups of 100 or 200 people.
“Ever since I was a boy I’d had an interest in watching TV chefs like Rick Stein and Keith Floyd and my love of cooking stemmed from there.
“While cooking for guests in the south of France, Italy and Austria I was able to indulge my passion for food and at the same time I was learning about different cuisines and picking up background culinary knowledge.
“Eight years ago, along with my wife Sarah, I decided to start my own business, which is called Su Casa Cuisine, and from our base in Oswestry we started to cook in people’s homes, doing dinner parties for groups of up to 15 or 20 people, which we still do.”
Explaining how his brushes with the big names of entertainment came about, Tim said: “About four years ago I was cooking at an antiques fair in Shrewsbury and one of the production runners from Bargain Hunt which was being filmed there came over and asked if I could do some food for members of the crew and Tim Wonnacott who was one of the presenters at that time.
“I said of course I could and they all told me they enjoyed my paella very much.
“I’ve since become the regular caterer to the Bargain Hunt team, on buying days and at the auctions, and I cook for them about a dozen times a year. I’ve been all over the country to places like Lincoln, Malvern, Hereford, Worcester and Whitchurch.
“One of the regular presenters Eric Knowles is a particular fan of my food and loves the spiciest stuff. I do paella dishes from Spain and Latin street food such as Mexican fajitas, chicken and peppers and pulled pork.
“Another of the show’s presenters, Charlie Ross, always tells me he loves spicy food with a ‘bit of a wallop’ to it. I’ve shared recipe ideas with Kate Bliss who is also on the programme. They’re all great characters and I really enjoy cooking for them.”
Tim added: “The antiques people aren’t the only stars who enjoy my food. I recently set up at Walcot Hall in Shrewsbury to cook my chicken and chorizo paella at the Together Again Tour starring the singers Michael Ball and Alfie Boe.
“I was serving about 600 people that evening and Alfie came over for a plateful. We had a really good chat after I told him I have relatives who come from his part pf the world around Fleetwood in Lancashire. He’s a very down-to-earth guy and he said he really enjoyed my food.
“Actually, I’ve cooked for him before when he appeared at the Llangollen Eisteddfod, where I’m also a regular caterer, a few years ago but on that occasion he sent someone to get his food for him rather than fetching it himself.
“The night after the Ball and Boe concert I was back at Walcot Hall cooking for about 500 at a Cliff Richard gig and I did another 500 meals when the same tour moved on to Tamworth the next night.
“Another star who likes my food is Connie Fisher, the former singer who is a now a TV presenter. She’s had my paella three years in a row at the Llangollen Eisteddfod.
“There’s also the TV chef Ainsley Harriott who I met at a street fair in Chester a few years back. I’ve also had good comments about my paella from Nathaniel Parker who used to play Inspector Lynley in the TV crime series.”
Tim found time recently to cater for the new CBBC show Marrying Mum and Dad of which he said: “It was a great day watching the children arranging a wedding for their mum and dad and I think the programme is due to be broadcast this summer.
“I’ve cooked for so many famous people in the past few years I think you could call me the caterer to the stars but I’m really looking forward to being at Hamper Llangollen again this year.
“It’s a great event in a lovely venue held at the right time of the year. I believe it’s improved year on year and I can’t wait to start cooking there for hundreds of people once more.”
Phil Davies, a member of the committee at Llangollen Food Festival, can’t wait to try Su Casa’s mouth-watering cuisine.
He said: “I am a big fan of Spanish food so it will be a real treat to give their dishes a try.
“They will be among the record number of around 130 stall-holders at this year’s festival which promises to be the biggest and the best yet.”