A couple of months ago, I appeared as a contestant on Britain’s Best Dish. This is a show on ITV, around tea-time, which is a competition to find which amateur cook can produce this year’s best Dish in Britain. The prize is substantial – £10 000 for the winner – and the dish is put on the menu at The London Hilton for a month. That’s a bit prestige!
The show is regionally set – so there are 4 heats in South east, South West North East North West Scotland and Ireland. That’s a lot of people – because there are head -to-heads each day of starter, main course and pudding – 6 people per day. then regional finals on each Friday, then semi finals, then grand final of 6.
It was very scary. Overnight in hotel – sleeping badly. Then picked up at 6.45 a.m., signing in, make up, interviews, checking your equipment, studio orientation, rules, checking no logos on your clothes, more interviews (“Why do you think you will win?”), studio shots back to back with your head to head person, with director trying to get you to look a bit serious and angry, then suddenly it’s off. 45 minutes for starters. I did “Orange Infused Chicken Liver Pate, with warm griddle scones and a crunchy salad”. Recipe still on ITV web-site:
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Considering we had been there since 7.00, it felt very full on even though it was now 11.00!
Naturally, you have tried many times to get the whole timing thing right. But it is so different in a studio. Everything is weighed out for you already, and liquids are measured out. There were too many of some things, and not enough of others. You had to put anything you had finished with out of shot – and a helper would take it away. You had to cook in one slot for the camera – it was only then I realised I often work in two spots in my own kitchen – so it felt very constraining.
It worked really well. The judges are in the room watching you work live – and bugger me if you can’t hear their comments as you are cooking. “Don’t know why he is putting the soda bread into that – it is going to ruin it”. This is not a good thing to hear when you are just starting off…
Anyway, as you will see from the video, I won my head to head. Only half of the ‘winners’ go through to the next round – and I was in the wrong 50%! It was a great experience though, and I do like being on TV.
See what you think. Link below, and embedded too.
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