Foodie friends: Eamonn Holmes keeps in WhatsApp contact with cooking show contestants

Eamonn Holmes has been “really encouraging” to young cooks who take part in a TV show he presents, and is still part of a WhatsApp group with them, one of the contestants has revealed.

Amie Neill, assistant manager of Shu’s restaurant in Belfast, is one of seven home cooks featured in ‘Farm To Feast: Best Menu Wins’, the first farm to fork cooking program for BBC One Northern Ireland .

“I grew up with Eamonn Holmes on TV, and the first time we all met him on set he knew all our names and was so nice and always so supportive,” the 28-year-old said. .

“Even now we’re all in a WhatsApp group together and he’s really encouraging!”

Jamie, originally from Co Down, had been living and working in Hong Kong for a year with a concept group for restaurants, until the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and returned home in March 2020.

With a particular interest in Asian-inspired cuisine himself, Jamie has expressed excitement at the improvement in the culinary scene here in recent years and looks forward to the show highlighting this, as well as local food products from around the world. ‘North Ireland.

As for his teammates, he said they all stay in close contact.

“There’s a wide variety of applicants, I think I was the only one with a hotel background as such, but it’s been five years since I’ve been in a kitchen and none of us have has real leadership training.

“Everyone got into it. Obviously, Northern Ireland being a very small world, we just started clicking with who knew who and friends of friends.

“We are all super passionate about food and it was a great time in the midst of Covid and socializing with like minded people and talking about food!

“We all have small ambitions. I would love to have my own establishment, like a multi-purpose space for a restaurant/cafe/bistro/cocktail bar and we all see what’s going on. It’s a very good group of people. Who knows?”

Shu, the restaurant Jamie currently works for, even hosted global pop star Taylor Swift a few weeks ago when she visited Northern Ireland.

Although Jamie was unfortunately not working that evening, it can be confirmed that the “Shake It Off” singer ordered Shu’s Korean chicken with gochujang sauce to start, followed by a steak.

The first episode of Farm To Feast: Best Menu Wins aired on Monday September 27 and is available on BBC iPlayer. The next episode will be at 7:35 p.m. on BBC One NI on Monday, October 4.