Amarpal Harrar on The Kitchen


Amarpal Harrar overcomes Parkinsons on TV show The Kitchen

Reality show The Kitchen gives us a glimpse into eight different families’ kitchens as we see their unique meal times. Created by the same team behind Gogglebox it showcases, in BBC2’s words, “the spirit of life in Britian”.

The latest British TV craze introduces us to food lover Amarpal Harrar. Born in Stafford, Harrar has been an avid Indian style cook for years and his appearance has allowed him to share his skills and passion with the public. But Harrar has personal reasons for taking part after battling Parkinson’s disease for the past six years. He sees participation as a means to cope and maintain his well being.

He has no qualms about laughing at himself, “When I brush my teeth, I don’t need an electric toothbrush.” He also states in one episode how his condition is ideal for making Martinis as they are ‘shaken not stirred’, as a symptom of the disease is excessive shaking.

The food enthusiast first heard of the show through a tweet his son spotted where producers asked for food-loving families.

“They were here for days filming,” he says, “six whole days filming at the hours, 12 hours a day.

“I think we suited the programme because we cook everything ourselves.

“It’s important to us that we all sit down together to eat. For me, a mealtime brings a family together.”

Cooking on the show also helps Harrar deal with another setback, being made redundant from his job as a medical rep. This spurred him to start his own business, a cookery school called ‘I Cook Indian’

“I had a chat with the family and we all brain-stormed and the result was I Cook Indian and it seems to have been a good idea because it’s worked really well. People have fun learning how to cook Indian food, what could be better?”

It has been five decades since Harrar came to the UK from the Punjab where he fondly remembered the sights, smells and tastes from his home village where vendors sold authentic street food like samosas, pakoras, and tikis. Today he is determined to help his students cook Indian food with confidence. Though he states he is not a chef, he takes inspiration from his mother’s cooking and claims his technique is purely home-style.

As an optimist Harrar is eager to get on with his life despite his condition, “I looked at it this way, ‘Well, I have got it, but do I have Parkinson’s, or does it have me?’.

“I’m not going to allow Parkinson’s to have me. I’m going to get on with my life.”

Harrar hopes his appearance on The Kitchen will lead to bigger and better things such as starting his own cookery show or writing a cook book.

“I get on stage and ignore my Parkinson’s. I soon forget about it. I’m just talking, making sure I’m getting it right.

“I’m the sort of person who likes to see the positive side of life, because that’s what we’re here for, and if I can’t be positive, then I shouldn’t be breathing.”


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