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There’s no taste like home

October 19, 2011

Way back in April 2011, I received an application to be on a programme called ‘There’s no taste like home’.  I applied and forgot all about it.  So, I was really surprised when I got a call in early May and asked if I would be a substitute in case anyone dropped out at last minute.  Whilst I was pleased to get the call, I was disappointed to be only on the subs’ bench.  Not to mention that this was a really busy time for me.  We had just moved house, signed the lease for Bay Leaf and my sister in law was getting married on 20 May – also my birthday.  I was the official photographer and camera-man plus all the other duties that come with being a Bangladeshi ‘Dula Bhai’ (brother in law).


On 9 May I got the call – someone had dropped out and I was off the bench and required for filming on Friday 13 May – good job I’m not superstitious.  So the pressure mounted.  They told me that I would be working alongside a celebrity chef. I thought it was Marco Pierre White ( so I looked him up and thought ‘oh my god’ this guy is going to kill me.  When I spoke to the producer again, they told me it was Gino D’Acampo, ( and they said he was very nice.  To be honest, I didn’t know who he was, so I ‘googled’ him and found him in the Jungle – part of ITV’s ‘I’m a celebrity – get me out of here’.  I thought, this should be fun.


They asked me about what I wanted to cook, and I explained I would be adapting a recipe from Bangladesh that my grandmother used.  The dish is called ‘Mackerel with Lai Phata’ (mustard leaves).  They said that they would source the ingredients. While mackerel is easy to find,  lai phata is not available in the shops, it is grown in Bangladeshi gardens.  It is mustard leaves with a lovely peppery taste, a little bit like rocket.  I said I would source it myself.  I asked my brother-in- law to let me have some from his allotment.  I would normally grow my own but having just moved I hadn’t yet grown any.  He gave me a small handful which I thought would be fine.


I would be cooking against two other people at the Bank restaurant in the city centre (  When I got there I discovered I would be cooking for 20 guests.  So clearly the handful of lai phata was not going to be enough.  I asked if they could help get more lai phata and they said which shops they should go to!  I explained ‘you can’t get this in shops’ so they went to my mum’s house.


We were briefed in advance by the crew of what was expected of us and I met the other two contestants.  One was an African Caribbean gentleman from Newtown, who was cooking ‘Jerk Chicken’.  The other person was a lady from the ‘Black Country’ cooking a dish called ‘Groti Dick’.  An interesting name for a dish!  When Gino arrived with his entourage and make up artists, the tension certainly rose.  My first impressions were what a ‘diva’ and I thought, so this is TV.  But once we got cooking, it was a great experience.  We were asked to do a pitch to the diners about the food we were cooking and we had to cook 20 portions.  The pressure hotted up still further when we commenced service.  My dish was moving slowly and then all of a sudden there was a big surge of orders and the dish was finished.  Gino told me off for not telling him that the order was finished. He even sent me out to apologise to the guests!  But I must have done a really good pitch to have sold all 20 servings of the Mackeral with Lai Phata.


I shan’t tell you who won, but do tune into ITV on 27 October at 4pm and see for yourself.


This was a fantastic experience and taste of what TV shows are like.  I have not seen the finished article yet, but I hear I stole the show!


So, when I got a call from Monster Munchies ( on the Good Food Channel to prepare the largest ‘Balti’ in the Midlands with Matt Dawson as part of team from Bay Leaf ( I jumped at the opportunity and knew what to expect.  Now I am waiting for the next call ………………

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