Spice queen to the stars serves up a treat at Bodnant’s cookery school

A chef who’s cooked for comedian Bill Bailey and inspired London Mayor Boris Johnson will be passing on her spicy secrets in North Wales next month.

Neha Misra is holding an Asian masterclass at the cookery school at the prestigious Bodnant Welsh Food Centre on November 16.

The spice queen will be showing how she makes food for the stars, such as the dishes she created for the singer and actor Bill Bailey, Russian opera star Florence Hvorostovsky plus Holby City actress Hari Dillon – presently starring on New York’s Broadway.

Mum-of-two Neha began her career creating fabulous outfits for Bollywood movies, and went on to become a justice campaigner for the man wrongly accused of the murder of TV presenter Jill Dando.

Now she’s turned her love of cooking into a catering business, including running supper clubs at her London home. She has become so successful that London Mayor Boris Johnson asked her to speak at a conference to inspire a diverse mix of entrepreneurs.

Her culinary skills also helped raised hundreds of pounds for research by the world-renowned Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital into craniofacial surgery and genetic disorders.

Neha, who is also about to start the second series of her show with online digital radio station K2K, will be heading to Bodnant on  Sunday, November 16, for a Spice Delight class, when she’ll give expert advice on how to cook with spices.

She said: “I adore cooking and have devised dishes that can provide savvy solutions for any household.

“With my course at Bodnant I aim to maximise the many benefits of Asian cooking, such as dishes that can easily be made in bulk, leaving me enough to freeze, or meat dishes that taste better if cooked ahead.

“My recipes are a melting pot of Asian flavours but with British ingredients and methods. Through them I love to introduce people to pan-Asian dishes that use accessible and adaptable ingredients, which are healthy yet cheap, easy to find and quick to use without compromising on taste.

“I’m really excited about being chosen as a tutor for Bodnant Cookery School because it is based at a centre which is totally dedicated to the excellence of food.

“I can’t wait to get to North Wales where I know the quality of fresh meat and produce is just fantastic.

“On November 16, I’ll be showing some family-friendly dishes using local ingredients such as lovely Welsh lamb as well as things that are from Asian cooking and possibly aren’t quite so familiar, like lentils.

“I’ll also be showing people how to use spices but not take them too seriously. For instance, I’ll be a passing on little tips – when you don’t have tamarind to hand you can always use a well-known brand of brown sauce, which has tamarind in it but is more likely to be in everyone’s kitchen cupboard.

“Apart from that I’ll be bringing along a few ingredients from London such as paneer, an Indian cheese which is similar to halloumi but not so rubbery in texture, and making cassava chips, which are an alternative to those made from potatoes.”

Bodnant Welsh Food centre Chris Morton is looking forward to trying out some of Neha’s spicy delights. He said: “It will be interesting to see how Neha uses the many ingredients we have on offer here – such as our own cheese, butter, and meat cuts – in her cooking.

“I am sure that Neha will also be surprised to see just how many spices and flavourings, grown or produced in Wales, we have on sale at Bodnant – you don’t have to travel far to get the ingredients you need for a stunning recipe.”

Neha currently hosts regular supper clubs at her home in west London.

The 49-year-old was born and raised in Hammersmith where she still lives, graduated with a fashion degree from Kingston University in 1993, and worked on Bollywood movies headed by two-time BAFTA nominated director Gurinder Chadha – among those she helped dress was Bend It Like Beckham actress Parminda Nagra,  who went on to star in hit US television series ER.

Giving vent to her lifelong passion for food, Neha also began cooking on a voluntary basis for staff at the Mojo Miscarriages of Justices Organisation – eventually joining the charity as a researcher. Her cases included Barry George, who was jailed for the murder of TV presenter Jill Dando.

Neha said: “Working alongside lawyers, I helped to do the background research on it and in the end his conviction was judged unsafe by the Court of Appeal and was quashed in 2007. After a retrial, he was acquitted in 2008.

“Altogether I worked with Mojo for about five years and although it was a really exciting time for me I decided to find a job that was a little more family friendly.

“I have two children, my son Shyal, 11, and daughter Tisya, who is seven. It was around this time that Tisya started school and I had a little more time. I wanted to work but very much felt I needed to be my own boss, so I began my cookery business.

“I now run my company called Neha’s Cooking, which incorporates a website through which I sell a range of spices, cookery courses and a monthly supper club.

“Everything is based on my own style of cookery which has three principles of love, family and flavor which pretty much guide everything I do.

“Last year I was asked to provide one of the prizes for an auction held during a charity ball in aid of the Great Ormond Street children’s hospital in London, which was a sumptuous meal cooked by me in the winner’s own home.

“It was £1,000 a ticket and the person who won the prize was the Russian opera star Florence Hvorostovsky. I’ll never forget going along to her £5 million mansion in London to cook the meal for Florence and her guests who included the comedian and musician Bill Bailey.

“I was next to him at the table when we sat down to eat and it struck me what a really nice bloke he is. Actually, he later joined us on one of the supper club nights. I put these on about every month in the large self-contained basement at my home and cater for groups of six to 21.

“We sometimes have a bit of music or art along with the food and everyone enjoys them very much because they love to meet people with a shared interest in food in a more relaxed and intimate setting than a public restaurant.”

Bodnant Welsh Food centre at Furnace Farm, Tal-y-cafn, in the Conwy valley, has its own dairy making cheese and ice cream, plus an on-site bakery and butchery, with award-winning pies. There’s also a wine store and tea rooms plus the Hayloft restaurant and farmhouse accommodation.

To book a place on the course with Neha, and for more details on other courses at the Cookery School visit bodnant-welshfood.co.uk. 

Related Posts with Thumbnails