People in the Birches “like a good feed”, according to local man Neil (Red) Odgers, and that’s exactly what they got when the 36-year-old starred in the Channel 4 show ‘Come Dine with Me’.
Red - a family name given to him as a child because of his red hair - served up vegetable soup, ribeye on the bone, nettle champ, mash, dauphinoise potatoes, veg and a rice meringue dessert.
All the food was made from scratch - no packets or tins allowed - and to make sure there was no cheating, Red had a whole Channel 4 team in his Cannagola Road home from 8am in the morning.
The self-employed joiner was one of five people from Northern Ireland taking part in the show, with each person taking his/her turn to cook and serve up dinner for the others.
“It was so much fun, it was a joke a minute,” said Red. “I met so many new people and all the contestants got on so well together.”
Red also got into the fun spirit of the show, turning up at one host’s house dressed in a suit and bow tie, with a horse’s head to set it off, after being called ‘a dark horse’.
On the final night, which coincided with the Eurovision Song Contest, he dressed up as a member of Finnish rock group Lordi (his girlfriend is from Finland), enlisting the help of face painter friend Ruth McAlister, from Loughgall, to do his make-up.
When Red was initially approached about appearing in the show, he thought it was a joke, so when the producers arrived at his home to do an initial video interview as arranged, the Birches man was out in his shed.
“They told me it might be a good idea to put a shirt on and look a bit tidier,” he said.
The Come Dine with Me show was screened every afternoon last week on Channel 4 but for those who missed it, it is being screened nightly this week on Channel 4seven (sky140) at 6.30.
Red has thanked local businesses for their support - Clayton Moore of M&W Meats who supplied the meat, Glen Jameson of Statement Menswear for the smart suits, and his friend Leigh Silcock who gave him some cooking tips.
John Lawson of the ‘Head O the Road’ pub also served up finger food and champagne for Red and his fellow contestants so they could settle down and watch the show last week in front of the big screen.