Jeff’s chilli proves to be hot stuff

Jeff Hickson makes his chilli recipe for The One Show
Jeff Hickson makes his chilli recipe for The One Show

An amateur cook’s dish is vying for the title of the UK’s Best Chilli judged by food critic Jay Rayner on the BBC’s One Show.

Jeff Hickson was selected as a finalist for The One Show’s Best Chilli contest which is being aired on Friday, April 12.

Mr Hickson, a support services manager at Woodland Hospital in Kettering, saw an appeal on the show asking for people to submit their chilli concoctions.

Thinking his recipe stood a chance, the 45-year-old took the opportunity to send off his recipe.

Some days later he was surprised to receive a call from The One Show’s production team asking about why his recipe was so different.

Suitably impressed, the team called back and he learned he had been chosen as a finalist.

Travelling to the Llanerch Vineyard in South Wales in February, Jeff was matched against two other contestants.

Jay Rayner, food critic for The Guardian and the show’s Foodie Friday Reporter, would be judging.

Mr Hickson said: “Everyone was apprehensive as his critique on Masterchef could end a contestant’s ambition.

“As the end of the cook drew near, everyone wanted to make sure their dish tasted the best and looked like a dish worthy of the title.”

With three very different styles of chilli, the winner was announced.

Mr Hickson, of Market Harborough, is being asked to keep the result a closely-guarded secret so as not to spoil the surprise on the show.

It will be aired from 7pm with the winner receiving a chilli-themed prize and a chance to share the sofa with Jay, presenters Alex Kingston and Chris Evans, and a celebrity guest.

Mr Hickson said he relished the whole process.

The filming took all day but everyone involved enjoyed the experience, he added.

“The contestants cooked for all they were worth, knowing that the winner would be live on the sofa at the well-known studio,” Mr Hickson said.

Describing himself as an ‘enthusiastic amateur’ he learned how to cook from his mum Liz Hickson. He is also a dab hand at Italian, Indian and Chinese dishes.

He has lived in Harborough his June 2010 and says he loves the town’s shops, particularly The Kitchen Range Cookshop where he has ‘spent a fortune’.

Jeff’s recipe for success

To impress the TV show’s production team, Jeff had to explain what makes his recipe so tasty.

He uses a combination of Aberdeen Angus minced beef and ox cheek and it has a four-hour slow cook.

It contains home-dried chilli and 100 per cent cocoa.

His method is inspired by his mum’s stewing steak and kidney recipe which he has tweaked and adapted.

He researched authentic Texan chilli (where chilli is actually comes from, not Mexico or Chile as many wrongly believe).

From preparation to end, it takes about five hours.