07 April 2009, 14:42
How did you feel when you were asked to present Hell’s Kitchen?
“I was very excited, I did a star jump. Well, when I say a star jump, I punched the air as I have always been a massive fan of it and I love talking about sauces and quiche. So I was flattered and very excited.”
And when was the last time you worked on an ITV show?
“I did This Morning when Richard and Judy were on there. I loved it.”
What do you think of Marco? Have you met him before?
“I haven’t met him I think his cooking is brilliant and I am certainly terrified but I will just give him a squeeze and hopefully everything will be fine.”
Where will you squeeze him?
“That’s a good point. Let me decide that when I squeeze him.”
You’re the first woman to present Hell’s Kitchen. How does that feel?
“It feels good. I hope I can wear some sort of chef’s outfit, I have always wanted a chef’s outfit.”
Will you present the show in it?
“To basically present the show and just to walk around in it at home that would be good and an extra tall hat and a big apron, that is basically why I said yes.”
You must have discussed it with your husband.
“I discussed it with my husband a lot and he thought it was absolutely brilliant he shouted ‘cock-a-hoop’ when I got it.”
And are you any good at cooking?
“I am not very good at cooking. There are certain things I can do, like I can do a roast chicken and I can make chilli con carne. If you said to me can you make a steak with a peppercorn sauce and a potato wedge I think I would have to take my own eye out and eat it. I would find it that confusing. I have no idea. I can’t make a sauce.”
So you can do a roast chicken but can you do all bits that go with it or can you only do the chicken?
“I can do that but I am not very good at gravy or anything that is of a liquid consistency, although I can make a soup. I was always rubbish, and then I had the little monkeys and then I suddenly thought ‘right I am going to have to cook for them’ because it’s probably not right to give a six-month-old a Pot Noodle. So I learnt to cook for them and the kids like a lot of roasts, so every day is a roast for them.”
Would you do instant gravy?
“Do you know what? I use just mustard, roast chicken and mustard.”
Marco has definite ideas of what works and what doesn’t.
“He is going to argue with me. We are going to clash and I will tell you why we are going to clash - you know what is my favourite condiment, the king of condiments for roast chicken? It’s horseradish - delicious.”
So is your husband hoping the cooking will improve as a result of this and you might pick up some tips?
“I don’t know. I’ve been married for 11 years and I have always been very anti the idea that the woman does the cooking. He is quite a good cook.”
So do you split it half and half or does he do more?
“I don’t know. It’s a good point we don’t have any kind of rota. We eat a lot of very, very fast food, ie tuna steak in a pan a bit of butter and olive oil, green salad and a jacket potato so like really, really fast easy food so we will do it whilst we are talking to each other so it’s completely shared.”
Have you ever worked in a restaurant or bar?
Yes, it was my first ever job. Well, I call it a restaurant, I was a waitress at Maria’s Coffee Lounge in Chalk Farm and every holiday from the age of 15 to 18 including Easter, Summer and indeed Christmas. I was bad but I did fall in love with the bloke who was on dish washing and so all I tried to do was look attractive and flirt with him.
If people are eating all around you do you think that will make you hungry? Will you want to pinch things off people’s plates?
“I can. The beautiful thing is that there are ad breaks. In an ad break I can easily wolf down a plate of eggs benedict.”
Are you worried then that you might put on weight?
Are you the kind of person who never puts weight on?
“No I can’t say that… when I am nervous, nervous energy is quite extraordinary. On Comic Relief day they very kindly gave me a tray of Krispy Kreme donuts and I ate seven.”
When you get to interview the celebrities when they leave Hells Kitchen and they come and confess and confide in you about what it is like in there, do you think you will try and be a friend?
“I am on their side already. The producers will not tell me who the celebrities are because they know I can’t kept a secret, I literally can’t. The first year of Strictly they told me who was in and I had already told everybody I knew by the time I had left the meeting so I get no information, but I am already on their side.
“I think it’s incredibly daunting to turn up and have the best chef in the world teaching you how to make a soufflé whilst somebody is filming you and you are a bit worried about your mascara, it’s tricky. “
What’s your signature dish?
“Roast chicken. I love a roast chicken and I like it with a jacket potato with lots of butter and then with some peas. I also love, even though people say it’s for Christmas but I reckon it’s for all the time, brussels sprouts with bacon.”
And what’s your idea of food heaven?
“I am a big fan of eggs and I love cheese, I love them combined. I love roast beef and I love Thai food and Japanese food and any kind of Asian food.”
What about food hell?
“Anything that wobbles - crème caramel makes me want to cry. Panacotta: It’s just not to be eaten, not to be made. I like a jelly but I like a very hard set cheap jelly - I don’t like a posh jelly.”
What’s your most memorable meal?
“Do you know what somebody gave us? [I was] with the kids. We were staying somewhere and we had roast chicken with truffle mash and it was the most delicious thing I have ever had in my entire life. The kids were giggling and laughing and we were drinking red wine and I just remember that being a great night.
“I am also a big fan of a picnic and I used to have a lot of picnics in Primrose Hill when I was a student. You take the kids, you can take anything, grab sandwiches and go and sit on a picnic rug. Eating outside is lovely.”
Are you a barbecue person?
“No, it’s too much stress. Well not in this country because you barbecue once a year and I manage to make everything black on the outside and raw on the inside. I like having people round at my house more than a restaurant, not a dinner party but like a Sunday lunch. I would love people to turn up and eat out of the fridge and all of us stand up.”
What cookery programmes do you watch on TV?
“All of them. The queen is Nigella for me. I think I am actually in love with her because I love all the food she makes and I think she just presents it with total style.”
Have you met her?
“No, I would faint.”
If you could have your ultimate dinner party and have anyone round who would you invite?
“My friends – I don’t like famous people in general, they make me nervous.”
Have you got any celebrity friends who you might invite to Hell’s Kitchen?
“I don’t have one celebrity friend.”
Who would be your ideal line up on Hell’s Kitchen?
“Definitely Ronnie Corbett, he would always be in there, Elton John, and the Hamburgler from the McDonald’s ads in costume.”
Last updated: 07 April 2009, 14:42