Come Dine With Me - The Professionals: Meet the Yorkshire chef taking part in new series featuring three local restaurants

For Ben Franco, taking part in Come Dine With Me: The Professionals has come at a 'perfect' time for the hospitality industry.

Mr Franco is one of three restaurant owners set to appear in the first episode of the new series on June 27 - titled 'Leeds' but in fact spread across West Yorkshire.

His venture, The Barn in Almondbury, near Huddersfield, is featured alongside Disco Kitchen in Halifax and Swedish-themed Fint in Leeds - with the chefs and managers travelling between all three sites to critique each other's food.

Initially nervous and reluctant to take part, Mr Franco and his friend and former colleague Joanna Graham - who took care of front of house while he cooked - both ended up enjoying the experience.

Ben Franco outside The Barn

Film crews used to amateur cooking were impressed with the professionals' timekeeping, saying the first day of filming at The Barn was the fastest they had ever finished.

"I saw a Facebook advert back in January and friends tagged me in it, but at first I thought it wasn't for me and that I'd be no good at it. Eventually Channel Four messaged me privately and I picked Joanna as my partner. She's a former manager and also a top chef herself, so I knew she was someone who would back me up."

After five interviews, The Barn, which seats just 20 diners and opens only on Fridays and Saturdays, was chosen.

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"We only had eight days' notice before the film crew turned up! But it was great fun and such a laugh."

Mr Franco hammed up his 'grumpy chef' persona for the cameras and took criticism in good heart.

Participants were required to serve dishes that had appeared on their menus in the past, so The Barn began with canapes similar to those served at Kaiser Chiefs singer Ricky Wilson's wedding, which they catered.

This was folloewd by a starter of king scallops, a main of rump steak with pepper sauce - their bestselling dish - and dessert of jam roly-poly in honour of the 200 puddings Mr Franco baked each week for local children during lockdown.

"It was typical of us, very colourful dishes. There were a few criticisms but people are egged on and I took it on the chin.

"The crew said in 15 years they'd never finished so early, but professionals understand the timings.

"The industry is being hammered at the moment, with bills rising, low staffing and it's quiet. This is the perfect time and I'm hoping that by showing the pressures we deal with, it will be a big boost for us."