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Caribbean Chef brings island flavour to The X Factor

DO A LITTLE DANCE: Springer is the face of Just Eat's 'Chef Factor' campaign

MILLIONS OF viewers across the country would have seen Michael Springer, the owner and chef of Croydon eatery Big Mike’s Calypso Kitchen, warbling away during The X Factor advertisement breaks.

Springer, or ‘Big Mike’, has been running his kitchen for just under three years, and recently relocated to The Jolly Farmers pub in Purley, south Croydon. Some of his most popular dishes include Caribbean fishcakes, BBQ Honey Chicken and Oxtail.

Mike is one of nine chefs or delivery drivers around the country showcasing their vocal skills on the adverts for Just Eat, as a result of the company’s sponsorship of the show.

All candidates auditioned through a selection process called ‘Chef Factor’, which followed a similar format to The X Factor.

Springer sent in his version of soca classic ‘Feeling Hot Hot Hot’ by The Merrymen. After sailing through to the second round, he was invited to London to record a performance in a studio, before accepting a place in the final line up.
The Chef, who is a fan of the reality television show, can be seen singing ‘Get Down Tonight’ by KC & The Sunshine Band and ‘Place Your Hands’ by Reef.

He also dazzles with smooth sliding and rhythmic shuffling behind the studio kitchen surface, amidst ingredients such as scotch bonnet peppers, fresh thyme and succulent pieces of his famous jerk chicken; armed with a microphone-esque pair of silver tongs.

Mike laughed heartedly as he told us: “I love to dance but not to perspire, so I simply stick to stepping while cooking.”

EASY DOES IT: Mike, in the zone, as prepares delectable delights

Ben Carter, the company’s UK marketing director, said: "We're delighted to be able to champion the real heroes of the weekend - the chefs and drivers from our restaurant partners who work tirelessly behind the scenes - and give them a chance to shine on national TV."

Mike told The Voice: “It’s a real honour for us to work with Just Eat, make the X Factor adverts and still champion Caribbean food. This is such a once in a lifetime opportunity so I really wanted to get it right. I was in absolute awe when I saw the studio. It is a dream come true for us.”

The Londoner, who’s of Bajan descent, thinks that cooking and music are closely related.
“I believe that there are two places that you sing – the shower and in the kitchen. I have certain music that I use to bake with because I know that I am grinding, kneading and need to have that passion going in there.

“You cannot beat the happiness of combined cooking and singing. I like my music playing while I am in the kitchen – it’s my zone.

“I love food and people. I always say it’s your personality that sets the table and love is the main ingredient in making food taste great.”


Mike, 48, was crowned top takeaway chef at the British Takeaway Awards 2016, ranking among 13 regional winners - out of some 26,000 - to pick up a prize. He is hoping to retain this title, for the second year in a row.

According to the chef, who cites ‘Let’s Stay Together’ by Al Green as one of his favourite songs, the main ingredient in being a good chef is an appreciation for the craft.

“When you grow up, there’s often a special, notable dish that your mum or parents made you to eat. Something that’s in your DNA, makes your tick; a soul food that you know and always go back to. Whether it’s smoked salmon, rice & peas, bacon and eggs or flying fish and cou-cou.

“Every time you find that spot in an adult, they will love your food. If chefs really love what they do, that is what they try to find out.”

To vote for ‘Big Mike’s Calypso Kitchen’ at this year’s British Takeaway awards, head to:

Full credit: Just Eat & The X Factor UK

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