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Award Winning La Barca Helensburgh on STV Glasgow Riverside Show

In this guest blog from one half of award-winning Spanish tapas restaurant La Barca Helensburgh, owner Cara Nikolic describes the overwhelming support from customers and supporters since winning the Scotland’s Best Mediterranean Cuisine award for the second year running in the Scottish Entertainment and Hospitality Awards 2015 and describes husband Milan’s TV debut on the STV Glasgow Riverside TV show.

Watch Milan cooking on the TV show

The restaurant is buzzing and customers are genuinely delighted with many people stopping us in the street to congratulate us. We were thrilled to hear La Barca’s name called out at the glitzy awards ceremony in Glasgow for the Scottish Entertainment Awards 2015 and bounded on stage to collect the award for Scotland's Best Mediterranean Cuisine in our finery; with Milan kissing each of the 12 members of staff we brought with us.

In the days that followed there were photo shoots with the local press and for Milan the opportunity to cook live on TV for the first time!

We were invited onto The Riverside Show on STV Glasgow and having only caught one previous episode of the programme had little idea what expect. The email from the show’s producer to the Scottish Entertainment Awards said: “Who was the hilarious guy on stage from La Barca? Loved his energy, it would be great to get him on the show.”

While I was worried Milan’s “energy” was fuelled by one glass of fizz too many it seems this flamboyant behaviour kissing the team and jubilantly announcing he loved each and every member of staff was exactly what the telly folk were looking for.

Days later we arrived at the STV studios on the Clyde with an information sheet advising Milan he had just four minutes to prepare his dish with the presenters, cook off screen  in the next  fourteen and a half minutes;  and present the finished item in the next minute and a half.

It had been a busy day in the La Barca Helensburgh restaurant so we arrived half an hour later than advised and just half an hour before the show went live. We were rushed upstairs to the studio where an important looking man with a headset looked relieved to see us and announced to colleagues:  “We’ve got a chef!”

He quickly helped us unpack saying the new coloured  bowls we’d  brought were no use for TV, giving us glass ones to better show the ingredients, and at the same time advising Milan that the ceramic hob cooker might not like his paella pan.

As we rushed to set up and the minutes ticked by way too fast Milan quickly got to grips with the unknown electric cooker and I was ushered into the “green room” to watch the show with other guests waiting to go on. While the information sheet had advised bringing a “here’s one I made earlier,” Milan was determined to cook his paella in real time on a cooker he’d never used which didn’t like certain pans and all on live TV.  No pressure!

I stood nervously in the green room as the opening credits rolled and there he was on telly smiling broadly, describing his dish as beautiful and blowing the camera a kiss. I knew then Milan would be just fine and settled down to talk to the rest of the guests in the green room which included a comedian, an artist and a band.

Soon it was back to Milan to present his perfect “Paella de Carne”and there were laughs as he flirted with presented Jennifer Reoch telling her she looked Spanish while joking with her sidekick Colin Stone “You definitely look Glasgow mate.

I heaved a sigh of relief as the show ended and was allowed back into the studio to congratulate a grinning Milan. The band and behind the scenes team were tucking into the paella making approving noises and we packed up and headed home feeling it had all gone rather well.

The text messages we received from friends and customers as we drove  back to Helensburgh playfully suggested  Milan should get his own cooking show. Well, you have to aim high and Milan absolutely loved the experience; while I was just glad he was the one cooking on TV and not me.

The experience certainly gave Milan a taste for TV chef presenting.  My favourite Italian celebrity chef Gino D’ACampo better watch out!

Find out more about La Barca Helensburgh.


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