One year since appearing on the BBC with Gordon Ramsay!

One year since appearing on the BBC with Gordon Ramsay!

Today marks a full year since my appearance on BBC One & BBC iPlayer with Gordon Ramsay, for the second series of Gordon Ramsays Future Food Stars. 
The show is a competitive reality TV series where the renowned chef Gordon Ramsay searches for the UK's most exciting and innovative food and drink entrepreneurs, and me, the founder of BooChaCha (Hebe), was one of them!
We were put through a series of team based challenges, designed to test culinary skills (of which I have none), business acumen, and passion. 
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We were competing for Ramsay's approval (mostly) and a £150k investment in our business. The series was of course, filled with intense competition, creative food concepts, and Ramsay's signature high standards and fiery feedback.
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Everyone always asks, what was Gordon actually like? In truth, we didn't spend that much time with him, we'd spend a lot of time waiting for him though (sometimes there'd be rumours of him being en route in a helicopter). He was quite dramatic obviously, but off camera he was chilled out, quite funny, and seemed to give everyone that "dads here" feeling!
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Getting through stage after stage of the casting process was mind blowing to myself. With my Kombucha brand, BooChaCha being just 3 months old at the time of applying, I hadn't really sussed out what my business was actually doing & so putting together my pitch documents, and portfolio of experience was a bit tricky.
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I'd applied after my brother had suggested it in a classic mean sibling way (if you've seen the series, then you know I cannot cook at all), I had not prepared myself at all for being selected, & wondered if I actually wanted to do it the whole time ... but as they always say in business and in life, you need to move out of your comfort zone to find growth, & this couldn't have taken me any further out of my comfort zone!
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At the time of filming, the focus of my business BooChaCha was solely Kombucha Starter Kits. Our kits include everything you need to make the first month of daily Kombucha servings, and leave customers with the knowledge and set-up to brew forever, in a simple and faff-free way. The whole business stemmed from my own experiences of poor gut health.
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I regard Kombucha as a type of ancient health tonic, which when consumed regularly, in a fresh, raw and natural form, had a huge impact on my total health and wellness, and has helped many customers with a variety of health issues. 
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The best thing about Kombucha, is that you can make it really easily, and really cheaply at home, and this is the part that nobody talks about (apart from us). We also love running Kombucha brewing workshops, Kombucha Mix-Up parties & do talks on Kombucha and gut health ... we take samples everywhere with us too of course, so we can show people the huge difference between commercially produced Kombucha, and totally authentic Kombucha. 
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My main reason for taking part in the show was obviously the promotion for my business, but I was quite worried about the level of experience I would have in comparison with the other contenders.
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The truth of it is probably that I was hoping it was going to be a fast track way for the business to "make it". Even if I didn't win, surely some air time on the prime Thursday night 9pm slot of BBC One, with Gordon Ramsay, would do something ASTRONOMICAL for a small business like mine?
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It's quite funny to think back to all the worries I'd had in the run up to the screening. Myself and a legendary friend Jess, with a Marketing company Smashtag Social put together a "launch party" in one of our local pubs, so I could watch the first episode, along with all my closest friends and family on the big screen!
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It was crazy to have no idea how you were going to be portrayed, what your other team members had said about you in their interviews, or how much you swing your arms when you walk, until the very moment that it was being shown on the BBC!
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At the end of the day, it was one of those opportunities that anyone would be crazy to turn down, and I definitely earned kudos for the rest of my life with my friends and fam, in particular my grandparents, who were so excited, that they had a new TV installed the week before it aired!
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Looking back, it was certainly one of the most interesting experiences of my life, in terms of it feeling part social experiment, part endurance exercise and part permanent school trip! When you think about it, when do you ever get the chance to see what you can make, design or host, from a whole selection of ingredients, tools and amazing locations and just have free reign to go wild, like in the real world when would you have the opportunity to challenge yourself and really push the limits without there being much bigger risks involved.
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I can't ignore the fact that certain situations were very stressful, and required me to have a resilience which I didn't necessarily realise I had. The hardest part was figuring out how to juggle the social side of things. In reality, you spend the entire time with people who you don't know, on coaches, hanging around in service stations, hotel lobbys, some of them become friends and some just aren't your vibe. After every challenge, no matter what happened, you all have to get back on the coach together, and sometimes the awkwardness of that can feel quite overwhelming. 
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As I just said, some of these other contenders became great friends of mine, and one year on we still chat regularly! One of the best things I got from the experience was hearing about how and why the other contenders had started their businesses and what challenges they had faced in the first couple of years.
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If all of us had one thing in common, it would be that we all had a resilience which had allowed us to push through a whole range of different situations, both in life and business, and the experience we had on the show gave us an insight into ourselves, and each other, that even the people closest to us from home probably wouldn't of ever seen. 
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The biggest challenge for me was actually being away from the beach for so long, especially as we filmed at the start of the summer. It felt like there was just heatwave after heatwave, & meanwhile we were sat waiting for sound check (most of the time). All I wanted was to back home in Bournemouth, sitting on my paddle board sipping a Kombucha, obv. 
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Without giving away any spoilers, I was relieved to see that I pretty much came across exactly as I am in real life in the show, with highlights being the slop bucket, smashing a glass all over a bottomless brunch & getting stuck in a tree ... what a roller coaster!
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For anyone thinking a TV appearance alone will get you and your business to where you want to be, in one quick swoop, don't bank on it. There is so much to learn from being put in situations of intense pressure, most of which you don't even know you need to learn yet! My advice, always, is to go for it, but do not forget your core values, how to be kind, or where you came from.
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Thanks to Gordon, Studio Ramsay and the BBC for a truly wild ride, that I will never forget!
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