We were on the TV a few weeks ago with our award-winning vegan kebabs and our food was featured in an episode the BBC show, Britain’s Top Takeaways. We had a brilliant time but, more importantly, we had the opportunity to raise awareness of how good vegan food can be.
If you haven’t seen Britain’s Top Takeaway, it is a reality show ‘competition’ where orders are sent to various families and groups, who then report back with a score and some comments on the food. As you would expect we were featured in the kebab episode. It was exciting. We were going to be on national TV. That must be good right?
As we headed up to Manchester to film the show, I had some time to think. I was really upbeat about things as we got on the train, but one thought kept nagging at me. Maybe it was nerves about being on the show, but I started to worry. We were in the kebab episode. A meal usually associated with meat, and we were going to face off against some of the best takeaways in the UK… they were the best at, well, cooking meat… for meat eating customers… and we were about to offer a vegan alternative… to what could be a slightly unreceptive non-vegan group of critics. And we were doing it on national television. What if we didn’t win? What if it all went badly? What if the meat eating judges rejected our food out of hand and we didn’t even get a fair result? What had I done?
Then, with the clarity that only comes from being in a position where it was too late to back out, I realised something. Yes, this was a competition and yes, we were clearly going into this as the rank outsiders by being the only vegans in the group. That didn’t matter though because we had the opportunity to do some good and hey we've been in this position before with the UK Kebabs Awards. Why was I worrying about winning and losing? The important thing was that our vegan food was in the spotlight. If we were doing this, I was going to bring my top game, because we had a responsibility to represent vegans everywhere. There is a shot in the episode where we walk onto the set for the first day of filming, you can see that I was still very much in that positive mind set. We were ready for the fight!
First order off the griddle was our signature vegan döner kebab and I got chance during the cooking to explain to host, Sarah Cox that we made our own dough every morning. Then, after the döner went, it was almost constant pressure. We sent order after order out and all our top sellers were delivered to the judges. We cooked like demons, we created, wrapped, and sent off the deliveries and in between we waited for the feedback.
The scores started to come in and the first for us was a 5. Top marks and we were leading the competition, which was brilliant, but I was more interested in the reviews.
“I can’t believe it’s not meat. It’s got some lovely flavours”
“No meat on a Döner, we didn’t think it was going to be good, and it was amazing”
Not every comment was totally positive of course, but overall, the response was fantastic.
The competitions continued through to the final delivery. This was the real challenge. We had to provide an order of food for Moss Side Boxing Club. Frankly, by this stage we were exhausted. The pressure of being in the competition, the interviews, the anxious wait for feedback and the days of hard work were beginning to get to us.
Again, the scores came in and again, all I really cared about were the comments. Then I heard the one bit of feedback that made it all worth it. A very excited boxer said he couldn’t tell it was vegan and he was clearly loving the chick’n gyros he was eating.
“Mmmmm, That,” he said, after his first bite of gyros “is naughty”
If we take one thing away from the experience, it will be that boxer. He was smiling and enthusiastically eating a meat free meal he probably wouldn’t have tried otherwise. What mattered was that honest complement that our gyros were ‘naughty’. In that moment, two vegans from London gained a real victory from being on Britain’s Top Takeaway. The competition and whatever the final scores turned out to be didn’t mean a thing anymore. We raised the profile of vegan food on national television and that was enough.
If you can no longer watch it back on iPlayer, you can watch the best bits below on on Instagram channel.
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