One of my greatest ambitions – to cook on television – came true this year when I was chosen to participate in Series 1 of Britain’s Best Home Cook for BBC television.
I never expected to get chosen for the programme, let alone reach the final, where I was a runner-up. I think i was more surprised than anyone, especially given so many good cooks had left the competition.
Being on Britain’s Best Home Cook was hands-down the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me
Seriously, nothing has come close to this: yes, it was a challenge and yes, there were many moments of self-doubt, but what an experience it was.
I enjoyed every moment of my time on the show, not least getting the opportunity to cook for Mary Berry, Chris Bavin and Dan Doherty. And to have Claudia Winkleman, one of my idols, bouncing around the kitchens and being a terrific support, was a real thrill.
As a teacher, I try to teach resilience and I often encourage my students to go beyond their comfort zone. I am proud that I was able to put my money where my mouth is, as it were, by taking part on Britain’s Best Home Cook.
I would do it all again tomorrow if I could. I learned so much, not least being able to work under pressure, take on board criticism and learn more about some exciting styles of food from the other cooks.
I think I learned more from Dipa and Pippa, my other two finalists, during the programme than I have from devouring many cookery books and online videos over the years!
My journey on the programme certainly had its fair share of bumps along the way: an overly salted soup in Episode 2; slightly undercooked chicken in my sharing feast in Episode 6; the most embarrassingly dry ginger sponge during the ginger ingredients challenge in Episode 7.
Oh and I will never forget the scotch egg challenge in the Final: I had slightly broken the egg yolk which led to a deformed scotch egg: not unlike a swollen testical, which I think is exactly how I phrased it and how it was delivered to the nation without editing!
But I was very proud of many of the dishes I made: for me, the highlights included my roast lamb dinner, my crab pithivier, my plum dessert and my two dinner party final dishes: beef wellington and sticky ginger puddings with lemongrass icecream.
I had so many favourite foodie memories from the series. The highlights include: Tobi’s chicken gizzard pie; Pippa’s Bao buns; Dipa’s spiced roast chicken; Trevor’s hogget roast.
My advice to anyone who is thinking about applying for something that they would love to do, whether it is a job opportunity or to be a participant in a television programme is to go for it.
Honestly, I would have never believed I would be selected to cook on television, so if I can be picked, anyone can be!
So what’s next for me? Well, I would love to write a cookery book: I have so ideas many drafted out that I have worked on over the years and to have one book published would be another dream come true. But to write for a magazine or newspaper would be a tremendous thrill.
And I would love the opportunity to do more work on television or do cooking demonstrations at food festivals and the like. It is the teacher in me: I just want to try and show others that anyone can cook if they like food and are keen to have a go.
Mind you, I have been joking with friends that if they ever let a nonceleb gate-crash Strictly, I’m a celebrity… or The Island with Bear Grylls then I would be there like a shot!
But whatever happens, the memories of being involved with Britain’s Best Home Cook and meeting some wonderful people will stay with me forever.