A very spicy cook-off


South African production company Rapid Blue has been commissioned by the Food Network to produce the second series of celebrity chef Reza Mahammad’s popular cooking show.

Shooting on the 10 x 24-minute Reza 2 (title to be confirmed) will take place in July and August in South Africa and East Africa. The Rapid Blue team will move through each region with South African crew, shooting on high definition (HD). Post-production is to take place at the company’s headquarters in Johannesburg.

Rapid Blue executive producer Duncan Irvine approached the UK office of Food Network (owned by Scripps Networks in the US) more than a year ago with suggestions for shows and proposals. It was through these early discussions that the Reza 2 commission evolved.

Says producer Kee-Leen Irvine: “We are so excited about this opportunity to produce a series for Food Network. Apart from the fact that Reza Mahammad is a celebrity chef and one of the UK’s top Indian restaurateurs, he is just such a vibrant, adventurous character.

“We’re thrilled to join Reza on this African adventure as he explores the Indian communities and cuisine of different regions of South Africa, as well as Tanzania and Zanzibar in East Africa. Reza will meet and cook with local chefs in each episode, while also ensuring that he gets some time for a local adventure at each spot.
“Although it can be tricky working in Africa, Rapid Blue has quite a bit of experience working across the African continent with an established presence in both Angola and Nigeria, so hopefully everything will flow smoothly on this production.’

Chef supreme

Reza Mahammad was born in England but raised in India. Upon returning to England as a teenager, he took over his father’s restaurant when he was 16 and turned it into today’s The Star of India, one of London’s most acclaimed Indian restaurants. Mahammad learnt his culinary skills alongside some of India’s top chefs and has appeared on Channel 4’s A Place in France, sharing his passion for Indian food.

In season one of his Food Network show (titled Reza, Spice Prince of India), Mahammad traveled back to India, taking viewers on a journey around Rajasthan’s spectacular royal palaces to discover food traditions and specialties inside and outside the palace walls.

Mahammad has been to South Africa twice over the last four years. “I have very much enjoyed the landscape and the people of South Africa and I’ve feel very privileged to be able to do another series of Reza. I’m very excited about the project.

“In terms of African-Indian cuisine, I expect the style of cooking may be different as well as the produce, which most likely to be indigenous to Africa Tanzania and Zanzibar have Persian and Arab influences in their cuisine so I’m particularly looking forward to going there as well.’

Says Sue Walton, Food Network UK head of Commissioning and Original Content: “Reza, Spice Prince of India confidently sits alongside Food Network’s other shows in our line-up, matching them in production values while also showcasing new talent to DStv’s South African television audiences.

“Food Network prides itself on offering a combination of credible cooking, new culinary ideas and high-energy entertainment to inspire foodies and non-foodies alike. It is seen in more than 90 million households around the world.’

The broadcast date for Reza 2 on Food Network DStv Channel 185 is still to be confirmed.

Track record

Kee-Leen Irvine notes that Rapid Blue has worked with overseas channels for some time now and was last year commissioned by the BBC to produce Come Dine With Me SA, which performed way above expectations.

“We are very fortunate to have developed a solid track record by producing some of South Africa’s best loved entertainment shows, such as Weakest Link, Strictly Come Dancing, So You Think You Can Dance, Who Do You Think You Are and SA’s Got Talent. I think that has gone a long way in establishing Rapid Blue as producers that deliver quality and excellence, as well as being a completely independent boutique production company,’ she concludes.


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