Rose Calendars Sales Development Manager Elliot Van Sertima is about to gain stardom by appearing in an Essex based episode of the TV Series ‘Come Dine with Me’.
Elliot saw the opportunity to take part in the show through a friend on Facebook and he encouraged him to apply for a laugh. As someone who enjoys cooking and entertaining, he agreed to enter for the challenge. He was contacted two weeks later and asked for a screen interview, being selected to take part in an ‘Essex’ based episode.
Sworn to secrecy, Elliot cannot divulge whether he was the winning contestant, but he has shared some interesting stories about how the filming went with us, including details of what he cooked and how rigorous the schedule was!
Elliot’s parents are from Guyana, and after initially deciding on a Notting Hill Carnival theme, he had to re-think this as the timing wouldn’t have worked. What better than to cook something native to his homeland and treat his fellow diners to some authentic food? Elliot opted for salt fish cakes as a starter, served with salad, and a sweet potato and plantain version for the vegans/vegetarians. The main course included two types of curry served with his special rice recipe, and dessert was banana pancakes served with pineapple, passion fruit and mango. He told us what a challenge it was to make pancakes without eggs for the vegans, and allowing for this was not originally in his plan, meaning he essentially created two menus for each course.
Two men and three women took part in the episode, with the filming taking place in one venue with each cook having a day to cook and prepare their presented meal. Elliot had to explain what he would be cooking and the steps involved in each recipe, so that the film crew and production team could then shoot his preparation and cooking. Elliot has revealed to us that the team hired a huge mansion near to Tiptree, which he felt was used regularly as a film set, due to the luxurious nature of the bathrooms in particular. This new format allowed each contestant to have a themed evening each in the one venue.
The filming schedule lasted for six days, with Elliot continuing to fit his work at Rose Calendars around the schedule, before being collected and driven to the venue for the afternoon and evening’s filming. Each cook chose their own theme for their evening, with the other contestants asked to dress in this theme. Half way through the allotted time, each contestant has to give their ‘meal reveal’, where they speak through the menu giving their thoughts on what’s coming up. Elliot had not appreciated so much goes into each episode and he has no idea which parts of the filming footage will be included in the final version. He found it fascinating dealing with the production team and was surprised by the number of people involved, including camera men, directors and production, often filming the same scene three of four times to get the best version and the right angle. Each day of filming lasted until well past midnight, so by the end of the week Elliot was beginning to feel rather tired and ready to concentrate purely on work again. Rose Calendars supported him throughout the week and encouraged him to share what he could with his colleagues.
“I found it fascinating to be a part of this great experience. I am grateful to Rose Calendars for allowing me time to fit the filming around my work. It’s remarkable how different it is to be on the other side of the camera, as you don’t realise the work that goes into these TV programmes, or how much the production team are involved. My favourite part was the cooking day, as this was literally all I could control, and I’m looking forward to seeing the finished show to see how the editing has been done. All I know is who won, but that’s something I can’t tell you – you’ll have to watch to find out!”
The programme airs on Channel 4, on Monday 21 August at 5.30pm and every evening that week. Elliot’s cooking night will be Tuesday 22 August at 5.30pm