Black Country chef reaches grand final of BBC Britain's Best Home Cook
An aspiring Black Country chef has made it to the grand final of popular BBC show Britain's Best Home Cook – and is set to impress the judges tonight with her best dishes.
Sarah Woods, from Oldbury, is one of three top chefs who could take the crown on the cooking contest – after more than two months of battling it out over some of the UK's finest dishes.
The 42-year-old mother has been impressing judges Mary Berry, Chris Bavin, and Angela Hartnett since early January when she was one of 10 top chefs to be put through their paces for the television show.
And Sarah, who was born in West Bromwich, is overjoyed to be in the final – and hopes to nab the top spot when the show airs at 8pm tonight.
She said: "The best thing about this whole experience has been just having the opportunity to cook for my heroes, not only was it a great privilege to cook for the judges but also an opportunity to learn and develop from experts at the top of their game."
The show is pre-recorded – so Sarah already knows how she has got on in the competition, but has kept it a closely-guarded secret from friends and family.
She has already quit her corporate job and has been offered the opportunity to gain some experience in a professional kitchen – her dream is to open her own restaurant in the future.
She added: "I'm following my dreams. I plan to approach that as an apprenticeship as it were, learn how to cook to volume and scale, kitchen prep, food safety, general best practice and then take those skills into running supper clubs and workshops and one day a restaurant.
"I want to show case proper Indian home cooked food, and the food we second generation British Indians eat, not only the classics but also the hybrid food that takes the best of my British roots and Punjabi heritage and brings the two together in a delicious alchemy. This is my opportunity to give back to the community and to the country that has raised me, and spread love through food."
Sarah, who said she was "star struck" meeting Bake Off queen Mary Berry now lives in Cheshire with her husband Harvey and 10-year-old son Austin – who she said were her "biggest supporters" throughout the programme.
"It was my hubby and son that were my biggest support," she said. "So it was very difficult living and being apart from them. Also our very good friends the Schofields - their son Harry is Austin’s best friend. Both sets of parents live in other parts of the country so our friends have become our family and support structure. I’m very lucky to have such amazing friends. I felt very lonely in the house towards the end of the competition so they were an absolute lifeline."
Sarah said her favourite moment on the show was vegan curry week, where all three judges said she was their favourite contestant of the week – a moment that "blew her mind".
Her parents and grandparents came from the Punjab in India, and Sarah grew up learning how to cook a wide range of Indian dishes – she said she hoped she had made her family proud.
Catch Britain's Best Home Cook grand final tonight on BBC One at 8pm.