An online culinary sensation backed by food superstar Jamie Oliver has turned to a Welsh centre of excellence for his latest cookery tips.
Former builder Barry Lewis can be seen online learning how to create a frittata – an Italian omelette – with Bodnant Welsh Food Centre’s cookery school consultant Eira Roche.
The dad-of-two quit his job to become a full time cookery blogger online, gaining millions of fans from America and the Far East, after he was signed up by Jamie, the face of supermarket giant Sainsbury’s, for the award-winning chef’s new FoodTube internet channel.
Blogging under the name of MyVirginKitchen, Barry teamed up with Eira to master the basics of using eggs and cheese to create a quick and healthy meal for the family.
“I’ve never made a frittata before -I didn’t even know how to say it,” admitted Barry after filming at Bodnant in the Conwy valley.
“But Eira showed me how easy it is – and now I’ve just made a pumpkin and Welsh rarebit frittata, using Bodnant’s extra mature Aberwen cheese. We went around the farm shop – which is pretty impressive – to choose the ingredients.
“It was so easy, and I’ll definitely be making it for my two daughters, Chloe, who’s two, and Phoebe, six. Usually I film myself doing the cookery, but for the FoodTube we were able to bring a camera crew along, which made it easier.
“I only started cooking a few years ago – I didn’t know how to even fry an egg at first. I used to come back to my home in Weston Super Mare from working on building sites in in Newport and Cardiff, and wanted to make something good to eat for my girlfriend Rebecca, who’s now my wife.
“I saw Jamie poaching an egg on a Christmas show and realised that even I could do it.
“I decided to start filming myself doing it, with my daughter Phoebe and then put in on YouTube – and got lots of people watching it. It became so popular that I decided to give up my job with Wates engineering, and concentrate on this. Then Jamie Oliver recruited me for his new FoodTube channel, and it all took off from there.”
The 32-year-old has now posted hundreds of videos of him cooking – often with Phoebe, and using everything from builders’ buckets to hair straighteners. He’s just has launched his book Dinner’s On, and has appeared on shows such as Channel Five’s The Gadget Show.
He added: “I used to live in Chester, when I worked for the Halifax, but never visited this part of North Wales. I am amazed at how beautiful the Conwy valley is – I’ll definitely be coming back to Bodnant, and bringing my children with me. I hope the videos will also encourage others to come to this area with their families.”
The frittata recipe was devised by Bodnant cookery school consultant Eira Roche, who drew on her experiences working as a chef in Italy.
“I wanted to a recipe that was easy, good for the whole family and used different techniques,” said Eira. So we went around the shop and chose the ingredients – Barry liked that all of them are locally grown, such as the pumpkins, which supplied by Medwyn Williams from Anglesey, while the eggs are from Cilmeityn Farm, just down the road. He also had a tour of the dairy, so he could see where the cheese, extra mature Aberwen, was made and stored.
“Then we went back to the cookery school and I showed Barry how to make the dish, such as roasting the pumpkin in Franci olive oil. Afterwards, I sat to one side while he did it – that’s the basis of the videos, Barry trying to cook a dish for the first time.
“He was really lovely and I hope that his video blog will inspire others to try making a frittata – it is one of my favourites for my family. I hope that Barry will get the chance to return to Bodnant with his family as well,” added Eira.
Bodnant Welsh Food centre at Furnace Farm, Tal-y-cafn, in the Conwy valley, has its own dairy making cheese and ice cream, plus an on-site bakery and butchery, with award-winning pies. There’s also a wine store and tea rooms plus the Hayloft restaurant and farmhouse accommodation.
For more details on courses at the Cookery School visit www.bodnant-welshfood.co.uk.
To see Barry making his Welsh rarebit pumpkin frittata at Bodnant Welsh Food centre’s cookery school, visit