Three couples from the north-east cooked up a storm on popular Channel 4 show Come Dine With Me.
Taking part in the couples version of the hit programme, six residents from Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire battled it out to be crowned the winner of the regional episode.
Becca Walker, 32, and her boyfriend Grant Freestone, 28, husband and wife Leanne and Calvin Davidson, 33, from Bucksburn, and Gail Wright, 52, and her husband Iain, 53, from Oldmeldrum, appeared on the programme last night after undergoing rigorous phone interviews with producers and researchers.
Couples Come Dine With Me sees each duo cook a three-course meal for their guests in their home with the aim of impressing fellow contestants to get as close to 40 points as possible, with each pair given the maximum of 20 points to award to fellow competitors.
The couple with the highest score then goes on to win the £1,000 cash prize. And it was Gail and Iain who scooped the money after they impressed fellow contestants with their homely dinner menu, bagging 35 points out of 40.
Becca and Grant, of the city centre, landed second place with their vegetarian menu winning a score of 30 points and Calvin and Leanne took last place with 21 points for their Ibiza-themed night.
Speaking of her win, Gail said: “I’ve never won anything in my life so we were very surprised to have won. Both of us were delighted and my daughter actually got married a week after the show was filmed so the prize money went towards the wedding.”
But it was her husband Iain, who works as a manager in the oil and gas industry, who actually entered the couple into the running initially.
She said: “I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know a thing about it as he did it without me knowing.
“The first I knew about it was when one of the team got in touch to have a chat about the show. I could have choked him. It was totally putting me out of my comfort zone.
“We were the second night but your day starts really early. It was 8.30am when the team chapped on our door and your day is filled with prepping and cooking.
“You had to do everything from start to finish yourself and from fresh. You couldn’t cook anything the day before or get a friend to help.
“We filmed until around 2pm and then it was a quick change to get ready for filming again at 3.30pm when our guests arrived.
“I still can’t believe we won.”
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Impressing their guests with a homely meal, Gail is delighted everyone enjoyed it.
She added: “We didn’t realise we were getting a pescatarian couple (Becca and Grant) until the day before so we had to change our menu to accommodate this.
“That kind of threw a spanner in the works. We didn’t have a theme as such, we just offered something that didn’t offend anyone – something that most people liked. Everyone was really lovely and friendly and good fun.”
The TV experience was not contestants Calvin and Leanne’s first, having previously appeared on other reality TV shows.
Calvin said: “We actually got married on Don’t Tell the Bride and I’ve been on Coach Trip before but it was a really exciting experience.
“It was just as epic as all the other TV shows I’ve been on. It was three nights of madness and I loved every second of it.”
And make up artist Becca and her boyfriend Grant also loved it.
She said: “We gave Gail and Ian an 18, there was little stopping us from giving them a 20 as their night was incredible, but there’s always room for improvement.
“Coming second, I still think we did ourselves proud.
“It was risky cooking vegetarian food, but we stuck to our guns and for the most part everyone loved it.”
Gail and Iain’s homely menu
Winners – 35 points
- Roasted fig done with parma ham and gorgonzola cheese on sourdough bread (without ham for the pescatarian)
- Pescatarian main was sizzled seabass with ginger and chillies and Mediterranean vegetables and for everyone else was saffron chicken done with garlic potatoes and the same vegetables
- Raspberry and Champagne posset with a small shortbread biscuit
Becca and Grant’s vegetarian menu
Second – 30 points
- Halloumi fried with a pomegranate reduction, harissa chickpeas and mint oil
- Homemade gnocchi with a wild mushroom, white wine and tarragon sauce, topped with toasted walnuts and veggie parmesan with homemade rosemary and sea salt ciabatta
- Cherry tart with a dark chocolate and rum sauce served with a granita siciliana
Calvin and Leanne’s Ibiza-themed menu
Third – 21 points
- Techno Tapas – Cumberland sausage, king prawns and peppers
- Party Time Paella – one seafood version and one meat version
- Spanish Crumble Cookies