A HEXHAM restaurateur is celebrating the success of a reality TV show which has provided a platform for talented curry chefs across the North-East.

Titu Ahad, who owns popular Indian restaurants across Tynedale, including Saathi on Priestpopple in Hexham, has worked closely with childhood friend Mohammed Alamgir on culinary series The Chef .

The series, which focuses on the talents of Indian cooks as they compete to wow a panel of judges, has been growing a fan base since it first hit screens in December.

The show aired on Channel i – the leading TV channel for the Bangladeshi community in the UK – as well as worldwide.

And after three top chefs went head to head in its closing stages, the team behind the programme are already looking forward to series two, which they hope to open up to chefs working across the curry industry nationwide.

Titu, who was a director of the concept and resulting magazine, said: “The idea for this came from the need to understand our customers’ concept of Indian food from the other side.

“So a reality TV show, which would open up the industry and let them into the spice world, would be a great way to do it.”

The Chef was the brainchild of Mohammad, known to many as Alamgir, who is a correspondent for Channel i Europe and has been working on the project for almost two years now.

“The purpose of the show is not just to showcase the best of curry talent in the North-East but also to share ideas of how the cuisine can innovate,” he said.

“Tradition is important, but as an industry we are not moving forward if we’re not finding new ways of doing things.”

The Indian restaurant and curry trade in the UK is a £5bn industry, but is 90 per cent operated by British-Bangladeshis.

The industry is facing a huge recruitment shortage at the moment . First generation migrants who came over in the 60s and 70s, built up the trade, but now second and third generation British-Bangladeshis don’t necessarily want to continue in their footsteps. As a consequence, one of the reasons for doing The Chef “was to inspire and raise awareness,” Titu added.