TWO former Bury students found themselves cooking for two of the world’s most powerful men — but it nearly became a “Hell’s Kitchen”.
Twin sisters Helen and Lisa Tse served up a lunchtime treat for prime minister David Cameron and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who had gathered at 10 Downing Street for a high-powered meeting.
But it did not all go to plan for the former Bury Grammar students, as they were originally denied admission because they were not on the official invitation list. When they were finally allowed in, they found that there was no gas in the kitchens at Number 10.
Lisa, aged 36, said: “It was a very exciting but nerve-wracking experience. We were under a lot of pressure but it was great fun.
“When we got there we weren’t on the list and we had to get Mr Cameron’s assistant out to let us in because the prime minister was waiting for his lunch.
“Then the gas wasn’t working and we had to get engineers to come out which was really stressful and left us a bit behind.”
But eventually Helen and Lisa got down to work and cooked some of their favourite dishes for the leaders, including Mabel’s Clay Pot chicken, and one of their best-selling home-made sauces, Siracha.
The pair, who run the Sweet Mandarin restaurant in Manchester as well as producing their own ranges of sauces and cookery products, received MBEs in the Queen’s New Years Honours list for their services to the industry.
It is not the first time that the pair have come into contact with Mr Cameron, as Lisa travelled to China with him on a trade mission last December to secure a deal to sell their products there.
Lisa added: “This was such a surreal experience and I am still pinching myself.
“Thank you to the prime minister for supporting a small business like ours and helping with our export business.
“The one thing that unites us is food and that was the case at 10 Downing Street.”