Cold food, fake cabs and booze restrictions: The filming secrets of Come Dine With Me

They get a £125 food budget!!


Come Dine With Me is responsible for some classic British TV moments, like that guy sticking a whole whisk in his mouth, the woman falling through the door doing a handstand and of course the sad little life Jane moment.

Disasters are a key element to the show’s success and two previous contestants have revealed what really goes on behind the scenes of Come Dine With Me to make those moments happen. And it turns out the week is nowhere near as fun as it appears – from alcohol restriction, to eight hour filming days to cold food, a lot of production secrets have been spilled.

Benji Potter wrote for The Sun about his time as a contestant on Come Dine With Me and another contestant Aaron Paul spoke with Nottinghamshire Live about the experience. This is everything about we learnt about Come Dine With Me’s production secrets from Benji and Aaron’s accounts of being on the show:

The application process is long

Getting onto Come Dine With Me is a 10 step process. That’s a lot of effort to serve Janet a beef Wellington.

The process involves the original online application form that features questions such as “How competitive are you?” and “What things can irritate you when you go to someone’s house for dinner?”.

You also have to do a phone interview, mental health check and send in an audition tape.

You plan the theme with the director

Once contestants are through the door, then comes the dreaded decision of what theme night their dinner is going to have. This has to be discussed with the director to check it’s appropriate. It does go out at 5pm after all.

There is a budget of £125 for food and drink

Each contestant is given a budget of £125 for all the food and drink costs for themselves and their four guests. Some contestants will use this budget to get decorations or costumes as well. If they don’t win the £1,000 at the end of the week that £125 is the only money they receive for filming.

They film for at least eight hours a day

The guests at the dinner parties usually turn at 4pm and will often finish at 1am and have to do this each night throughout the week. But for the host the crew usually turns up super early at 8:30am to begin filming the house and cooking segments of the programme.

They will often get contestants to repeat things like putting food in the oven six times just to get the right amount of shots.

And you have no idea where you’re going

The contestants are literally put in a cab and taken to each person’s house and will never be told where they’re going.

Just filming the knock on the door takes 15 minutes

Those first awkward introductions at the front door are peak Come Dine With Me. And no wonder they seem so awkward as they’ve probably already said hello three times.

They have to film the contestants walking up the road, knocking on the door and the hellos.

There’s a lot of people in the kitchen

Not exactly too many cooks in the kitchen, but far too much film crew. There’s usually at least three crew members and scaffolding in the kitchen with the host. And some of these kitchens can be very small. No wonder they look so flustered all the time.

The producers influence what they talk about

Because the five contestants end up spending so much time filming together in the week, the producers suggest contestants “hold back” information about themselves so there’s always stuff to talk about during the dinners.

Alcohol is restricted

The booze is also controlled, as they start drinking from 4pm the crew will monitor everyone’s drinking to ensure no one is pissed by the main course. But that’s half the fun of Come Dine With Me.

The house tour items are always planted by the crew

I think most of us can work out that Sharon’s old holiday pictures were definitely not left on the bed by her. But it’s nice to get the confirmation that the producers select which items are chosen to be left out for the house tours.

come dine with me production secrets cold food

And art is taken down in the house

They also change the vibe of the house if they have to take down famous art work before filming, as they need to get the artist’s permission to use the piece on the show.

They usually make all the meals before the guests arrive and so the food is cold

I would hate this so much. The crew suggest contestants make most of the meal before everyone arrives so they can just pop it in the oven when people get there. However because of all the filming of the dishes, the food is usually pretty cold when it arrives on the table.

come dine with me production secrets

The money is real

They really ought to be more careful when they throw all the money around after they win, as it is 100 per cent real.

The cabs are fake

I am actually so disappointed in learning this. The black cabs they give the scores in are only used to drive the contestants around near the house to give the commentary and score. The contestants are then put back into a less boujee car and sent on their way home.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

The 12 most crazy moments which actually happened on Come Dine With Me

Raw chicken and pink mash: The 11 most woeful Come Dine With Me meals of all time

Plan your perfect Come Dine With Me evening and we’ll tell you if you’d win the £1,000