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Sexy super chefs set to cook up a storm

'Gourmet Girls' travel to find ingredients, complete missions

JOHANNESBURG — “Charlie’s Angels” meets “Mission: Impossible” in a kitchen — this is the concept behind “The Gourmet Girls,” a food show for BBC Worldwide that will start airing in June on the BBC Food channel in South Africa and the U.K.

Devised by South African production company Cotton Road TV, “The Gourmet Girls” features glamorous superchefs Kirsty Ratcliffe, Paula Nel and Tracy Foulkes.

In each episode, the girls’ must cover tough terrain to remote destinations to find ingredients for last-minute missions, such as preparing a cocktail party for a celebrity or a romantic birthday dinner for two. They slip into their Gourmet Girls outfits, jump into the Gourmet Girls-mobile and set off to save the day.

But whether it’s diving for crayfish, jet skiing or commandeering helicopters, the girls always get the job done.

Filming on the six 30-minute episodes started March 3 in South Africa and will wrap March 21. Skein is being produced by Rachel Young and directed by Anthony Rogers of Cotton Road and exec produced for BBC Worldwide by Duncan Cooper.

Invested in Africa

Mark Young, managing director of BBC Worldwide, said the show reaffirmed BBC Worldwide’s commitment to Africa. “We are delighted to be commissioning such innovative local programs using home-grown talent from this key market. We hope to launch more dedicated programming for the African audience in the near future.”

Cape-Town based Cotton Road has produced material for Blighty’s Carlton Food network, and it was during a conversation between Rogers and fellow managing director Kaz Henderson that “The Gourmet Girls” were born. “We were joking around a bit, but then I suddenly thought this could work. And I knew just the right girls, too.”

Ratcliffe, 23, is from Johannesburg but she spent the past year in London polishing her cooking skills. She graduated as top student with a Grand Diploma at South Africa’s premier cordon bleu school, Silwood Cookery School. Her experience includes stints at the country’s top culinary spots, including the Relais Chateau Cellars Hohenort where she met fellow “Gourmet Girl” Nel.

Nel’s classic training has helped the 26-year-old gain entry to some of the top kitchens in the world, including her recent spell at Antonio Carluccio’s group of restaurants in the U.K. She also presents popular TV magazine show “Top Billing.”

Foulkes, 31, has her own catering company as well as a range of food products sold at home and abroad.

Henderson would love to see the girls become South Africa’s first TV chef celebs.

However, they are likely to become better known in the U.K. than in their own country. BBC Food is available in South Africa to the 800,000 subscribers to MultiChoice Africa’s DSTV satellite service, although Henderson hopes a terrestrial channel will pick up the show, which is being pitched worldwide.