Beth Miller

Writing and tea

Interview with Hardeep Singh Kohli

The 34th Chiddingly Arts Festival begins this month: a heady mix of music, dance, beer, comedy, arts, theatre and poetry in one small village. Beth Miller spoke to radio and tv presenter Hardeep Singh Kohli, who’ll be appearing there.

What are you doing at Chiddingly?

My show’s called Indian Takeaway. I do some cooking, a bit of chatting, there’s laughter hopefully. I order a takeaway from a local restaurant, and while we’re waiting I cook a curry. I have to say, mine are normally better than the takeaways, though I did have a not bad one recently in Milton Keynes. And I made a very nice lamb vindaloo.

Have you been to Chiddingly before?

I haven’t. I’ve spent time in Sussex though, touring round. And I’ve got friends in Lewes. It’s very pretty, I do like Sussex.

Tell me about being the only turban-wearing boy growing up in Glasgow.

I didn’t know any other upbringing. There are far worse cities and times to grow up in. It had its challenges but I’m glad I’m from there. I could have been from Norwich.

When you were touring as the Nearly Naked Chef, was anyone disappointed to find that you were fully-clothed?

Anyone who’s seen me naked could tell them that me being clothed is not the disappointment.

You were runner up on the first Celebrity Masterchef. Would you cook something different if you were on it now?

No, I intentionally didn’t do curry; I thought it would be a bit obvious. Matt Dawson won, and deservedly so.

Is it true you’re opening a restaurant?

Yes – I’m having a meeting about it right after this. We’re looking at opening in 2013, in east or central London. It’s been on the cards for years. It will serve the kind of food I grew up eating, food from the Punjabi.

Book writing, journalism, radio, tv, live shows – what one speaks to you most?

That’s like asking someone to pick their favourite child! They’re all versions of storytelling, and I love them all. I’m lucky to do any of them. I’m about to start a new R4 series about families, called Sunday Lunch, in which I cook with a family and hear their stories. That’s what I love, interviewing people and finding out about them.

Have you ever been on your brother Sanjeev’s radio comedy Fags Mags & Bags?

Yeah, I had a tiny part – and then he cut me out of the edit!

Beth Miller. Published in Viva Lewes, September 2012