A HEAD chef, who came runner-up on a reality TV show for the second time in a row, has opened a fine-dining experience in Darlington.

Syed Shany Ahmed, who recently opened fine-dining restaurant Bombay Gate on Skinnergate in the town centre, took part in the second season of the The Chef earlier this year.

The 39-year-old had previously been head chef at the Bombay Duke café, serving street food, on Duke Street when he took part in the first season of the satellite TV show.

In 2017, Mr Ahmed impressed show judges with his chicken silasila dish, beating a number of restaurant owners from across the North-East of England for the second spot.

But almost two years after gaining global recognition, Mr Ahmed wanted to bring ‘something different’ to the people of Darlington, with the opening of a new restaurant.

He said: “We’re building up on word of mouth, but this is a totally different concept.

“This one is more contemporary – fine dining.

“We are trying to do something different in Darlington.”

Mr Ahmed who first developed a taste for cooking when he was 17-years-old and helped his father run food outlets on Teesside and Durham, said the idea to create a fine-dining experience had been fuelled from his second participation in The Chef.

Mr Ahmed, who battled it out with 30 other chefs from across the North-of-England, said: “They made the show bigger and it ran for over seven weeks.

“Being in the competition has shown me more ideas, better ideas instead of street food.

“I didn’t win but I got feedback from Douglas Jordan, which was excellent.

“He told me how to do different things, not just Asian cooking, he said he wanted me to do other dishes.”

Douglas Jordan, who founded the North East Culinary Trade Association (NECTA) which trains and supplies catering professionals across the region, has become renowned for the creation of his unique dishes and high standards over past few years.

Mr Ahmed, revealing the secret to his success, said: “The secret is a lot of hard work and I use my restaurant as a base, which allows me to use my customers as my judges – they give me feedback on the food.”

The newly-opened restaurant is bigger than the previous premises ran by Mr Ahmed, Bombay Gate can hold around 80 diners at full capacity.