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If the millions of food snaps splashed over social media prove anything, it’s that we are a nation who loves to share our food. For some of us, dinnertime not only involves cooking, but capturing the results of our culinary endeavours for all our followers to see.
We might expect our foodie photos to clock up a few likes or comments on Instagram perhaps, but most of us probably wouldn’t anticipate an out-of-the-blue phone call from a TV researcher asking if we’d like to apply for a cooking competition, with national treasure Mary Berry on the judging panel.
From home baking to the BBC
But that’s just what happened to Wealth Client Services Executive Josie Ingram earlier this year when her social media posts brought her cooking to the attention of BBC One show, Britain’s Best Home Cook.
“It was such a shock,” says Josie, who works at Tay House in Glasgow where she enrols clients with voice security and supports day-to-day banking queries. “Never in a million years did I think I’d appear on a TV show – I was just a regular home cook. I thought ‘is this for real?’ I had to Google the show to make sure.”
As the competition took place over eight weeks, signing up involved taking time off work, something Josie was apprehensive about. When she broached the subject with her management team, however, she was thrilled by how supportive everyone was. “I feel so lucky,” she says. “My manager told me that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and they weren’t going to stand in my way.
“My colleagues all encouraged me too. And, of course, they wanted samples of my dishes! I’ve made food to sell in the office to raise money for charity in the past and it’s always been popular, so I know they like my cooking,” she laughs.
For the duration of filming, Josie had to move from Glasgow to London where she lived alongside nine other contestants. Each week, they took part in two challenges, presented by Claudia Winkleman and judged by doyenne of baking Mary Berry.
Says Josie: “It was so surreal having watched Claudia and Mary on TV for all these years and then actually being in front of them – I was a bit star-struck!
“Mary would always smile encouragingly and Claudia was lovely – she even gave me a back massage when I said I was feeling tense.”
Despite Claudia’s best efforts, Josie’s nerves got the better of her in week three, when the contestants were asked to make a dish featuring plums as the main ingredient. “Coming from Asia, plums aren’t something I cook with very often,” says Josie, who moved to Glasgow from her native Philippines in 2010. In the end though, it was pastry that proved to be Josie’s nemesis. After her rough puff failed to impress the judges, she was eliminated from the competition.
Luckily the experience has only bolstered Josie’s love of cooking. “As well as being more open to cooking new things, I’ve gained more confidence in myself and learnt to play to my strengths,” she says. “Plus I’ve gained life-long friends – all the other contestants are like family to me.”
So, could a burgeoning TV career be on the menu? “No, no more shows,” she laughs, before adding: “Well, you never know – I always believe if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.”
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