A top chef from Oswestry is planning a five star bushtucker feast for food lovers.
Scrumptious crickets, meal worms, beetles and other bugs will be on the menu at the Llangollen Food Festival that’s being held on Saturday and Sunday, October 13 and 14.
The idea is being masterminded by Jack Hatley, the head chef at the town’s Gales Wine Bar and Hotel.
He taken his inspiration from the hit TV show, I’m a Celebrity, in which the contestants are challenged to tuck into a whole host of creepie crawlies.
According to Jack, who lives in Oswestry, some of the world’s top rated Michelin-starred restaurant are now serving up insects in the culinary masterpieces.
He is going to be using the unusual ingredients to create some stunning and recognisable gastronomic favourites, adding it was time people understood the benefits of consuming insects as they are packed full of protein and have as much nutritional value as most meats.
The acclaimed chef is a regular in the demonstration kitchen at the popular event, alongside other favourites like Dai Chef and TV chef Graham Tinsley who will be serving up more traditional fine food.
The event is now officially recognised as one of the top 10 food festivals in the UK and pumps around £400,000 into the local economy every year.
At the festival, Jack will be serving up three insect delicacies.
He said: “Insects are seen as a staple source of protein to many people around the world yet we seem to have a real hang up about eating them.
“A restaurant called Noma, in Copenhagen, which has two Michelin stars and has been voted in the world’s top 50 restaurant list for many years, is using insects in some of their dishes and they forage for many of their ingredients.
“Insects are a fantastically healthy food source and are very abundant and breeding insects as food has a range of environmental advantages. We just need to have a cultural change to make insects more acceptable as a food source.”
Jack who in the past has worked at Chester’s Grosvenor Hotel and a top Jersey hotel, added: “This will be my third year demonstrating at the Llangollen Food Festival. “I want to get members of the public up to try these insect dishes and gauge the reaction.
“The plan this year is to make a grass hopper guacamole, cricket cookies and a meal worm arancini – deep fried balls of rice packed with meal worms.”
“Insects are without doubt a really sustainable form of eating and could well be the future of fine dining – if we can get over the hang-ups.
“I’m a Celebrity does the bushtucker trials but they do it in such a gross way. Cooked properly insects can be very tasty and I aim to show people just how good they can be and just what amazing dishes you can make with them.
“Would we put insect dishes on the menu at Gales? We have talked about trying one or two as a special. We like to be adventurous and try different techniques to come up with a new twist on well=known dishes.”
Pip Gale, the MD of Gales Llangollen, who also sits on the Llangollen Food Festival Committee, says Jack is a hugely talented chef who brings great new twists to classic dishes.
He said: “I have tried insects and they are actually very tasty. I’m hoping Jack can show that insects are a great alternative and a sustainable food source packed full of protein and goodness.
“It is going to be interesting to see how people react to trying insect dishes but there really shouldn’t be an issue!
Fellow committee member Phil Davies is looking forward to giving the insect dishes a go, as well as the more traditional fine food that will be on offer at the festival.
He said: “Thanks to a whole host of indigenous companies, North East Wales is rapidly establishing a reputation as a centre of excellence for high quality cuisine.
“The food festival is a perfect shop window for the companies who form the backbone of our rural economy.
“The location of the Pavilion is absolutely spectacular – I can’t imagine that any other food festival in the UK has a more beautiful setting.
“It’s also brilliant news for the local economy. If you buy from a local producer, all that money is recycled through the local economy and that sustains employment in our rural areas.”
For more information about Llangollen Food Festival go to www.llangollenfoodfestival.com