Tasty new talent to BBC Two
BBC Two has commissioned two new primetime food programmes for 2008.
Culinary explorer and chef Valentine Warner is set to combine cooking and natural history to take us on a journey through the best seasonal autumn food.
And in this Olympic year, one of the brightest young stars in modern Chinese cooking in the UK today, Ching-He Huang, travels the length and breadth of the country to show viewers the modern way of cooking the nation's favourite Chinese takeaway dishes.
Later this year, chef Valentine Warner will provide viewers with the definitive guide to seasonal cooking and eating in What To Eat Now – Autumn, a distinctive new series that will be shot using natural history filming techniques to bring the ingredients to life.
At a time when supermarkets aisles offer virtually everything all year round, Valentine explains how the natural rhythms of the culinary world work. He sets out to cook whatever he hunts, fishes, and picks, but you don't need to be a hunter to enjoy the meals he cooks – all the ingredients will be things you can get at the shops. Seeing them growing in their natural environment will explain why autumn is the perfect time to enjoy them.
Pat Llewellyn, Managing Director, Optomen TV, said: "It's a refreshingly clear proposition: here's the seasonal food that you should be eating now - this is how it grows and this is how to cook it.
"Valentine's enthusiasm for seasonal cooking is infectious and once you understand exactly how and why foods appear at certain times it'll be hard to resist the urge to get up off the sofa and cook for yourself."
Meanwhile, 28-year-old Ching-He Huang's contemporary, youthful and fun attitude will be reflected in her new series, Ching's Chinese Kitchen (working title) this summer as viewers see her journey across Britain – literally with wok in hand – taking the nation's favourite Chinese takeaway dishes and giving them a contemporary twist with easy-to-buy ingredients and simple practical tips.
Born in Taiwan and brought up first in South Africa and then, from the age of 11, in London, Ching will draw on the experiences of her family and friends as well as top chefs to introduce healthy Chinese food to the traditional Chinese-takeaway-reliant Brits.
With characteristic energy and enthusiasm her distinctive take on cooking takeaway favourites – from sweet and sour pork to authentic fried rice and chop suey – will emphasise how quick, easy-to-make, and healthy Chinese food really is and how it should actually be eaten.
Ching-He Huang said: "It's great to be part of the excitement surrounding China and Chinese culture in this Olympic year – and I'm really looking forward to sharing my modern, accessible and authentic take on oriental cookery.
"I think the audiences are going to be able to 'take away' something really special from this brand new series and I'm looking forward to the prospect of cooking simple-to-make Chinese food for people throughout Britain as we film the series over the length and breadth of the UK."
The 6x30-minute series scheduled for broadcast in summer 2008 has been commissioned by BBC Commissioning Editor for Independents Ben Gale, executive produced by the BBC's Lisa Edwards and made by Lion Television.
Jeremy Mills, Managing Director, Lion Television, said: "We're delighted to have the chance to bring Ching's enthusiasm and down-to-earth approach to the delights of cooking Chinese food to a wider audience through this series.
"We hope to be able to put right some misconceptions about Chinese food, often caused by experiences of indifferent, unhealthy takeaway dishes, and to prove that fresh and healthy Chinese cooking is achievable by all of us in the home from experienced cooks to novices."
Ching's Chinese Kitchen (working title) and What To Eat Now: Autumn are just two of the latest in a long line of groundbreaking food programmes commissioned by BBC Two, including The Hairy Bikers, Raymond Blanc's The Restaurant, Anjum Anand's Indian Food Made Easy, Nigella Express and the forthcoming Delia (spring 2008).
Notes to Editors
Ching's Chinese Kitchen (working title) is a 6x30-minute series to be broadcast on BBC Two primetime in summer 2008. The executive producer is Jeremy Mills, Lion Television.
What To Eat Now is a 6x30-minute series to be broadcast on BBC Two primetime in autumn 2008. Executive producers are Pat Llewellyn and Gary Broadhurst, Optomen TV.
Ching-He Huang was born in 1978 in Taiwan. She was brought up first in South Africa then in Golders Green, London, from the age of 11.
After graduating from Queen Mary and Westfield College in 1991 with a first class degree in economics, she set up her own business selling a range of cold noodle salads, traditional leaf salads, side salads, gourmet pasta salads and healthy soft drinks.
Valentine Warner, 36, lives in West London but grew up on a farm in the wilds of Dorset where his first 12 years were spent outdoors, learning to fish and shoot and cook. Sent to school at 13, he spent his time daydreaming and being reprimanded for poaching from the local trout farm.
He then left for art foundation course in Bath and then the Byam Shaw School of Art in London, where he learnt to play cards while studying as a portrait painter. Valentine had a reasonably successful career as a painter but the call of the kitchen was too strong...
After spending seven years working with inspirational chefs and mentors including Alistair Little and Rose Carrarini (founder of the original foodie destination deli-cafe Villandry) and freelancing for other kitchens, Valentine set up his own catering business cooking private dinners.
Soon the company had secured clients such as Yves Saint Laurent, Working Title and Gucci. Valentine sold out to his business partner and spent a year out fishing in the Mexican jungle. There he fell in love with Mexican food and on returning to London co-launched Taqueria Cafe on Westbourne Grove.