Becoming a ‘celebrity’ and courting the media
The kindness of strangers
I’ve been looking forward to writing this blog with particular joie de vivre. Not because it is pertaining to celebrity, but rather as a best friend would say “life is all about the generosity of strangers”.
I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the help of individuals who put blind faith in me.
We’re all unfamiliar to one another at a point in our lives. Only later after making contact can we become friends. So, are we really ever strangers at all or is it just a mere matter of time that stands between us all?
I first started courting celebrity back in 2007 when a chain-smoking agent asked me to build a celebrity base to raise my profile. Actually, at the time I made a mock of her by bluffing that I knew a few celebrities just to win over her favour. What more else could a budding author do to get ahead?
After putting my Indian Superfood concept together, I started writing to well-known food names to ask whether they’d consider looking at my book proposal with a view to providing me with a quote should they feel my work to be commendable. Celebrity chef and award-winning food writer Vicky Bhogal was the first to come to my rescue with her quote “Gurpareet combines a passion for the health benefits of food with an enthusiasm and skill for new flavour combinations, resulting in food that has real flair” and this would be enough to peak the interest of publishers as I was no longer an “unknown” (whatever that means I don’t really know. I’ve always been branded as Gurpareet Bains and nothing more or less).
Vicky’s quote meant other food writers including Ching would eventually come on-board. However a great deal more would simply ignore me, and I can completely appreciate why as it seems credible that celebrities are continuously bombarded with such requests as mine. However, I was surprised at how many so called strangers would come to my aid. Perhaps it was my prior experience in numerous cold-calling sales roles combined with my concept that got their initial interest? I’ll never really know unless one day I care to ask. But, if you’ve got something worthwhile (and original) to say and can wrap it up in a nice package someone will eventually take heed. I believe that if you knock on enough doors, ultimately one will open up and lead to a new chapter.
The ensuing step to dizzying celebrity heights would be a partnership with my now friend and former stranger, Jon Kirk who’d just set up the Palamedes PR agency. Jon would take my concepts and (allegedly) compelling recipes and deliver them to the press. One such recipe was a chicken and blueberry curry that contained as many antioxidants as 23 bunches of grapes and therefore dubbed as the world’s healthiest meal. My recipe would make international headlines and blast me into the celebrity arena. I would even be ‘summoned’ by BBC Radio 2 to present my meal live on-air to the one-and-only radio DJ and foodie Chris Evans who chirpily baptised it as “the best curry ever” as well as asking for my hand in marriage live on-air (I still love you Chris). I had arrived. Tens of millions of people now knew about the formerly unknown Gurpareet Bains.
With my new found status, just about anyone would talk to me if I asked nicely enough and perhaps shared a taste of my now world famous Indian Superfood. Nobody would be off-limits from this point forward.
I recall a meeting with Jon at a London hotel where he pointed out in a crowd Sanjeev Bhaskar. Unbeknown to the both of us at the time was my lurking lunacy. With an almost innate calling, I grabbed Jon’s pen and paper and chased a rather petrified Sanjeev down Charlotte Street to tell him about my new Indian Superfood concept that presented Indian recipes as the world’s healthiest. Going by his ethnicity alone, I had betted to myself that I was in a good chance of winning over his goodwill. And I was right, Sanjeev was intrigued and my encounter paid off with his rather amicable agent making a more formal and less frenetic introduction that lead to a dinner. Bless Sanjeev. I watched him growing up for most of life and now here he was in my life. Sorry you missed that black cab SanjeevJ
The celebrity ‘stalk’ went on for months. Looking back now, it was my preferred ‘sport’ of the time. I’ve almost lost count of the times when I’ve found myself chasing celebrities down a road with tiffin box in hand to muster support for my projects. Gratefully, not even once have I found myself roughed up by a security guard. I guess celebrities aren’t all bad! For the record, celebrity-hunting has proven particularly successful for me and I can now boast a string of fans that include Dame Vivienne Westwood, Goldie Hawn, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, and even our very own Queen who delivered me to the top. Of course Her Majesty is off-limits from hereon.
I believe in the kindness of strangers.
Oddly enough, now strangers stop to talk to me in the street.
Just for the record, I’ve never chased a member of the royal family.
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