Proving – yet again – that Sussex has got it going ON when it comes to food and drink, Sussex chef, food historian and blogger Sam Bilton and husband Neil today found themselves in the finals today of My Kitchen Rules on Channel 4.
Narrowly pipped to the post today, Sam freely admits that they never expected to even make it this far, as before the competition, Neil “couldn’t even chop an onion.” We’re thrilled to have an exclusive interview with her about her experience in this exciting culinary challenge.
How did it feel to be in the finals?
We were both thrilled and shocked to have made it to the finals. We’ve put a lot of hard work in but seriously never thought we’d get any further than the MKR Mansion round. We’ve come up against some seriously talented cooks but Clare and Niall will be the most challenging couple we’ve had to face in the competition.
Are you going to make Neil cook more now?
Neil did an amazing job and his skill level has increased a hundred-fold since we started the competition. That said I think he’s getting a bit sick of cooking now, but at least I know I can leave him in charge of dinner in the future without the fear of coming home to burnt offerings!
What are your plans for the coming year now?
I’m currently putting a book proposal together based on the historically inspired recipes I created for the show and at the supper clubs so in the new year I’ll be looking for a publisher. We’ll also be launching more supper club dates so now would be a good time to subscribe to the newsletter (link below)
What will you making for Christmas lunch?!
There will just be the four of us this year (we have two boys) so I think we’re going to have something like a fillet of venison, perhaps with a medieval pepper sauce. Neither of my boys are big fans of the traditional Christmas pudding so I think an 18th century spiced chocolate and wine tort is in order with lashings of cream.
Whilst Sam’s working life largely revolves around food, Neil is a currency trader in London. But they also run a historically-themed supper club from their home in Haywards Heath called Repast, which provides a modern interpretation of historical recipes for up to 12 diners once a month.
My Kitchen Rules UK is about real people with a real passion for food and includes a series of gruelling rounds that included competing against four couples to cook a three-course restaurant standard meal, against the clock and then in round two, creating a delicious main course from a mystery ingredient – aubergines – provided by their guest judge. The Biltons’ guest judge just happened to be the late, great Antonio Carlucci.
Their Aubergine Parmigiana with Stuffed Courgette Flowers saw them come second in this heat and gain a place in the People’s Choice Round, where they cooked outside in the pouring rain (with barbecues on fire and all sorts!) before finally snaffling a place in the finals with the last two rounds.
Having battled through cooking outside in the pouring rain, and impressing judge Tony Singh with a British Raj inspired menu, the Biltons found themselves up for the prize!
One final question for Sam…
We’re so sorry you didn’t win, but what a result!
Having put so much effort into the competition we’re obviously gutted not to have won! But we were really pleased with the feedback we had for our dessert, especially from Jay Rayner, so we went out on a high.