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Escape to the Chateau viewers amazed as Arthur Strawbridge makes meatballs

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Escape to the Chateaus viewers were amazed as Arthur Strawbridge whipped up a Dutch meatball dish for a wedding on last night’s show.

The hit Channel 4 programme – which was the channel’s biggest in 2020 – follows Dick Strawbridge and wife Angel as they renovate a run-down 45-room moated chateau bought for just £280,000 in 2015 – which now hosts fairytale weddings in the Pays de la Loire region. 

During yesterday’s show, the couple’s nine-year-old son was seen joining Dick in the kitchen to create Bittenballen for a wedding.

Many of those watching were amazed by the little boy’s efforts, with one writing: ‘I love the way Dick and Angel involve Dorothy and Arthur in everything.’

Escape to the Chateaus viewers were amazed as Arthur Strawbridge whipped up a Dutch meatball dish for a wedding on last night's show (pictured, with his father Dick)

Escape to the Chateaus viewers were amazed as Arthur Strawbridge whipped up a Dutch meatball dish for a wedding on last night’s show (pictured, with his father Dick) 

Another commented: ‘Arthur is going to be a chef when he gets older.’

A third wrote: ‘God bless Arthur!’

The programme was filmed in the summer while school holidays were happening, so Arthur and his sister Dorothy were shown helping out with different jobs around the chateau.

And with wedding season in full swing, the first the chateau had seen since the Covid-19 pandemic, there was plenty of work to be done.

Many of those watching were amazed by the little boy's efforts and predicted he would become a chef as he grew older

Many of those watching were amazed by the little boy’s efforts and predicted he would become a chef as he grew older 

However it was Arthur’s efforts in the kitchen which really impressed viewers. 

The family were shown preparing for the wedding of a Dutch man and his British wife, with Angel seeking old orange flowers as a nod to the groom’s home country.

Meanwhile Dick and Arthur came together in the kitchen to create the traditional  Bitterballen dish.

It is a meat-based snack, made by making a very thick stew, before rolling the meat into balls and popping into breadcrumbs. 

The nine-year-old was filmed donning an apron alongside his father and chopping up vegetables

The nine-year-old was filmed donning an apron alongside his father and chopping up vegetables 

The balls are then dropped into a deep fat fryer, and cooked, before being served with mustard mayonnaise. 

The young boy was filmed helping his father out and chopped up carrots and onions, saying: ‘Are we adding garlic into it? I love garlic.’

Dick tossed some red wine into the pot, before the pair put the beef dish into the pressure cooker.

But with the first stage of the cooking finished, Dick told his son: ‘Do you know what we need to do now? We need to wash up the dishes.’ 

The pair created a meat stew in a pressure cooker before Arthur rolled the mixture in breadcrumbs

The pair created a meat stew in a pressure cooker before Arthur rolled the mixture in breadcrumbs 

After the stew thickened up in the pressure cooker, the pair sampled it, with Arthur confessing it was ‘amazing.’

He rolled the meat balls into flour and breadcrumbs, before Dick helped him to place them into a deep fat fryer.

Arthur said: ‘That’s a nice sizzle!’

The pair went on to taste the meatballs to ensure they were properly cooked through, with Arthur saying: ‘It’s amazing!’

The traditionally Dutch dish is a meat-based snack, made by making a very thick stew before rolling the meat into balls and popping into breadcrumbs

The traditionally Dutch dish is a meat-based snack, made by making a very thick stew before rolling the meat into balls and popping into breadcrumbs

Dick added: ‘Right, now you have to make 200!’ 

With the special dish made for the couple’s big day, the bride and groom arrived for their ceremony.

And as the wedding reception began,  it was Arthur’s big moment.

He brought out the Bitterballen, with the bride saying: ‘The first taste has to go to the Dutch man I think! I’ve been really excited about this.’

Arthur told the couple that he had made them, while the groom said: ‘They are perfect, they are the best ones.’

After the couple celebrated getting married at the chateau, the little boy was shown serving up his dish

After the couple celebrated getting married at the chateau, the little boy was shown serving up his dish 

After searching for the chateau for four years, Dick and Angel bought the sprawling 19th century building in 2015 after swapping their two-bed home in east London. 

The series is full of arguments and tiffs over stressful renovations, precious moments with their children Arthur, and Dorothy, eight and creating happy memories with newlyweds.

The chateau has since been valued at £2million but the couple also cash in through TV rights from Channel 4 for the series and its day-time spin off.

Dick and Angel also host fairytale weddings receiving up to £38,000 per wedding. The average price, however, comes out at around £19,000.

The nine-year-old donned a beret and chef jacket as he brought out his traditionally-Dutch dish for guests at the event to try

The nine-year-old donned a beret and chef jacket as he brought out his traditionally-Dutch dish for guests at the event to try 

A six-course wedding dinner plus canapes upon arrival, a cheese and meat table during the evening and an unlimited full bar for the day for the maximum 80 guests will set you back £20,000, a post-wedding brunch £1,600 and hiring the chateau for the weekend is £6,250.

As well as weddings, the couple also sell glamping nights for £350 in ‘geodesic domes’ in the chateau’s grounds and £230 ‘days of decadence’ where you can meet Dick and Angel, enjoying lunch and afternoon tea at the chateau.

And the couple even charge guests £75 for a ‘working day in the garden’, with the website saying: ‘Yes to be frankly honest we are charging you to come and work! And in return you have to help make the place beautiful!’.

TV presenter Dick and author Angel now employ a PR to market their thriving business empire which includes not just weddings but personalised homeware, gifts, soft furnishings, calendars, diaries and cards.

How much will a wedding at the chateau set you back? 

The full run-down of the costs a wedding weekend for 80 at the chateau include:

Chateau hire – £6,250

Six-course wedding dinner with unlimited full bar including ‘bubbles’ – £20,000

Welcome dinner and drinks – £5,200

Personalised embroidery with guests names – £440

Flowers – £750

Wedding cake – £325

Post wedding brunch with champagne – £1,600

 

They have a separate ‘Chateau Products’ team based in Swindon, Wiltshire, to deal with all the merchandise inquiries.

However it wasn’t always plain sailing for the family who bought the property with no electricity, water or sewage – and a sanitation system that was emptied in the moat.

Over the last few years, viewers have seen them transform the chateau into a flourishing business but they were also hit by damaging bullying claims in 2021.

Last year, it was reported that sources close to Spark Media, the independent production company that filmed the first four series of ETTC, had accused Dick and Angel of bullying.

Dick was accused of pushing one crew member around a room, and threatening to throw another ‘out the f*****g window’ while brandishing a hammer. Both were also said to have sworn at TV staff.

Meanwhile, the show apparently haemorrhaged producer directors (PDs) during the first four series: three out of six left prematurely following rows — an exodus ‘unheard of’ in television, it’s claimed.

Dick and Angel — deeply dismayed by the accusations — wasted no time in categorically denying them. In detailed testimony via their representative, the couple have emphasised not only the warm atmosphere among the team that currently makes their show, but also their long-held, high professional standards, which they say has helped bring their chateau fantasy to successful fruition.

And no one can deny that theirs is the original entrepreneurial dream come true, powered largely by the determined Dick, who has decades of experience in television.

With such high standards, the Strawbridges say, of course, comes high pressure — yet, still, their representative stressed that production members associated with the couple over many years found ‘working with our clients at the chateau is a lovely experience.’

They also made accusations of their own of outrageous behaviour among the Spark’s production team.

Meanwhile, Channel 4 has denied all knowledge of the row, saying in a statement: ‘Channel 4 does not tolerate bullying or abusive behaviour in any of its productions.

‘Channel 4 was not aware of any of the alleged behaviour by Dick and Angel as described in these claims, which we understand relate to a period well before the current producers started making the series.’

The series was coined in 2014 after an executive at Spark Media heard that Angel and Dick, a former army officer who has appeared as an engineering expert on TV shows such as Channel 4’s Scrapheap Challenge, were leaving their two- bedroom flat in Southend, Essex, for a new life in France.

The popular series will return to Channel 4 this autumn for more heart-warming family adventures, innovative renovations and spectacular celebrations in their final series of Escape to the Chateau.     

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