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AINSLEY HARRIOTT FOR SA (article first published : 2004-04-22)

BBC Food, the gastronomy channel on DSTV, has announced it will be filming a new series for the channel in South Africa. Titled Off the Menu and hosted by BBC's larger than life celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott, recipes from top South African chefs will be at the heart of each of the thirteen episodes and every South African with a cooking talent has a chance to be in the show.

It is the third South African commission (Coxon's Royal Feast, Gourmet Girls) by BBC Food since the Channel launched under two years ago. The series will be produced by Johannesburg based production company Urban Brew.

If you love to cook and love the idea of being on the television, BBC Food needs you. They're looking for 26 teams of two to take part in the cookery show and show off their culinary skills alongside top celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott, host of Ready, Steady Cook and many other cookery shows on BBC Food.

Due to be filmed in Johannesburg in May, Off the Menu challenges two teams of amateur chefs to cook a meal 'off the menu' of a top South African restaurant. The catch? All they have to go on is the name of the dish. Based on that, and only that they must choose their ingredients, devise the recipe, cook the meal and present it - all in the space of half an hour. The chef who cooked the original dish acts as judge and the team that has shown the most culinary flair wins.

BBC Worldwide Director of Channels Wayne Dunsford says that the programme is perfect for this country because of our vibrant and varied culinary scene. "South Africa has some world-class restaurants and, as a nation, it is passionate about its food - whether its pap and gravy or saffron glazed seafood soup. We know that there are huge numbers of people out there who are enthusiastic and imaginative cooks and they're the people who are going to make Off the Menu fantastic entertainment as well as a celebration of South African food."

The programme is fast-moving and bound to result in some priceless TV moments - especially in the hands of the larger-than-life Ainsley (back again after visiting last year as part of the 'Unite Against Hunger' project). Off The Menu will premiere on BBC Food on DSTV later this year.

Added Ainsley Harriott "I have been fortunate enough to have visited South Africa on a number of occasions and have met lots of great people and eaten some memorable meals. I'm excited because Off The Menu is a combination of those two things - it's going to be a uniquely South African television experience."

Don't miss out on the chance to show off your culinary prowess. If you enjoy cooking and are up for a challenge then find a partner and apply for a place on the show. Of course, if you're more interested in watching people go wild in the kitchen, then you can always be part of the studio audience when the series is filmed in Johannesburg. In both cases, just go to www.bbcfood.com and fill in the application forms or write to OFF THE MENU, P.O. Box 16, Melville, Johannesburg 2109 and ask for an application form.




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