Curry king

Why Hardeep Singh Kohli is taking on the takeaway

Broadcaster, writer and Celebrity MasterChef finalist Hardeep Singh Kohli will be embarking on a UK tour this summer in his latest one-man show, Indian Takeaway, where he explores how Britain has made curry its favourite dish. ALISON COWIE finds out more. 

HARDEEP SINGH KOHLI will be taking on the takeaway at the Durham Gala Theatre this month as part of his new one-man show. 

The writer and broadcaster will order a takeaway from a much-loved Indian restaurant (from suggestions made via his website), before creating his own version live on stage. 

Once the takeaway arrives, some lucky audience members will then be invited to sample both meals in a blind taste test. 

The aim of the show is to explore the nation’s obsession with Indian food, determining how Britain has fallen in love with the curry. 

“It’s incredible to think that Britain has adopted a food from the other side of the world so readily,” Hardeep reflects. “I want to celebrate this and show the differences between the food that we grew up eating and the food that’s available in restaurants.” 

As well as cooking up a culinary feast, Hardeep will be sharing recipe ideas and foodie anecdotes from his childhood growing up as a Sikh, to Indian immigrant parents, in Glasgow in the 1970s. 

“I led a dual life when it comes to food,” he explains. “We ate Punjabi food at home, at a time when it wasn’t cool to be eating that sort of stuff because people thought it was too smelly. But I was also eating Scottish cuisine which was mostly carbohydrates and deep fried. 

“Then, I came to London, I realised that there was all this food from all over the world. And I’ve been doing my very best to eat it all ever since!” 

Despite managing restaurants as a student, Hardeep embarked on a media career after graduating. 

He joined the BBC Scotland graduate production trainee scheme before moving to BBC Television Centre in London where he directed children’s television shows including It’ll Never Work, which won awards from the Royal Television Society and BAFTA. 

Hardeep left the BBC in 1996 to start his own production company and wrote, directed and starred in Channel 4’s Meet the Magoons. 

Work and his love of food merged in 2006 when he was a finalist on Celebrity MasterChef, the grueling cooking competition presented by John Torode and Gregg Wallace. 

“People always ask me if Celebrity MasterChef was stressful,” reveals Hardeep. “It might have been had I not been loving every minute of it. I was paid to cook and paid to learn. It was incredible. It was intense and hard work, but I absolutely adored it.” 

Despite missing out on the title to Matt Dawson, Hardeep has continued to explore food through his work. 

He reunited with John Torode to present a culinary series for UKTV, and combined cooking with stand-up in The Nearly Naked Chef, his first one-man show which he took to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2009. 

Hardeep will be performing his latest culinary themed show, Indian Takeaway, throughout the UK this June and July. And with plans to open his own Punjabi restaurant in London next year, it seems this food lover will have his hands – and mouth – full for the foreseeable future. 

Indian Takeaway with Hardeep Singh Kohli will be at the Gala Durham Theatre on June 17. Tickets £15. For further information, call the box office on (0191) 332 4041 or visit www.galadurham.co.uk   


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