AS far as culinary requests go, this one is very specific and seems simple enough.

A chef specialising in cooking Indian cuisine is needed for a very special one-off performance.

The show is already booked in at the Lakeside Theatre at Essex University in February as part of a tour of the country.

But the key ingredient of a chef is still needed to make sure the recipe turns out as it should.

The Chef Show centres on a father and son, Adbul and Khalid, during a particularly busy night in their restaurant.

Two actors play all the roles but they are joined in the play by a chef from a restaurant local to wherever the show is being performed.

The chef demonstrates a dish of their choice and makes snacks which are shared with the audience.

It also offers the chance for a restaurant to get the word out about their eaterie.

The play, written by Nick Ahad and directed by Stefan Escreet, follows Abdul and Khalid as they try to deal with customers out the front, staff in the kitchen and the issue of the future of the family business.

Stefan explains the concept was an immediate success when it launched on a much smaller scale across the north of England in January and February of this year.

As a result the tour heading out in the early part of 2018 will take in a much larger area, heading to Wales, Dorset and East Anglia amongst others.

He says the unique theatre experience is a huge opportunity for all those involved, explaining above all it is a chance to bring communities together.

“I suppose it is an unusual request and unique, so that maybe why it has proved a challenge in some areas trying to find someone to come in and fill the chef’s role.

“We could have hired a chef who came with us for the entirety of the tour which would probably have been a bit easier but we felt this was just a brilliant opportunity to bring people together and to make it specific to each area we travel to.

“In this time of heightened feeling and strains in different sections of our societies it is a chance to get people talking and so that is why we decided to get a chef from the area of each town we go to,” says Stefan.


The audience gets to taste some of the mouth-watering dishes

And the idea was a success with chefs on the tour earlier this year reporting a hugely positive feedback and boost in their businesses as a result of their appearance.

Stefan explains the chefs do not have to act - they are very much in the background getting on with what they need to do in preparing their dishes in the specially constructed kitchen.

“We deal with that fairly quickly by having one of the two actors say to the other words to the effect of ‘who is this ?’ and the other responding ‘Oh this is uncle, he is helping us out tonight.’

“The chef then can get on with what they are preparing while the actors get on with what they are doing.”

They are asked to create a dish familiar with fans of Indian cuisine which has included daal, chicken curries, aloo and masalas - these are then handed out to the audience to taste.

In the second half the chef is asked to create something a bit different to that they would serve up to a standard customer.

Stefan explains: “They do a kind of shift in the second half to what we would call a ‘staff curry’.

“This is the kind of dish which would be served up for the staff at the end of a night when they have finished serving and it will usually be a bit more authentic and often a bit spicier.

“Many of the dishes we all order from the takeaway and our local restaurants have been developed for our pallets,” he adds.

Stefan says this switch is deliberate in order to start a conversation about the different flavours.

“It starts a discussion about what they have had to do to their flavours for the public who come in to the restaurant and also puts the spotlight on the differences between Kashmiri, Bangladeshi and Pakistani cuisine.

“Most of the food, for example, we order from our own favourite takeaways and restaurants is actually Bangladeshi.”

A whole range of expertise has already lined up next to the two actors including independent caterers and even women who put together spices for Indian dishes.

“That was really important for us, to have the female chefs, because it is still quite a male dominated world.

“We have had chefs with quite poor English who have had a translator on stage and we have had others who were very comfortable there but it has all worked really well and people have loved the experience - and getting to eat whilst being entertained!”

  • If you are interested in taking part in the play as the chef when it comes to Colchester, contact the Lakeside Theatre on 01206 874985.