Kitchen heats up
Ten celebrities put themselves in the firing line of fearsome chef Marco Pierre White in Hell’sKitchenAustralia, writes AMELIA SAW
LIFE is unusual in the Warner household – and not just because it is headed by famous sporting couple David and Candice.
It’s unusual because the Warner kids, Ivy Mae, 2, and Indi Rae, 1, have spent their young lives subsisting on a diet of room service and ready-made meals.
“I’m not a great cook. I can’t poach an egg,” former iron-woman Candice says.
“I can boil pasta … but I don’t think that’s too hard. I just don’t have much confidence in the kitchen. I don’t know what spices go with what and I’m terrified of the stove.”
The fear she feels when mealtime rolls around was enough to convince her to go on Hell’s Kitchen Australia.
Fronted by ominous British chef Marco Pierre White, the reality cooking show sees 10 celebrities compete for a job as head chef in a restaurant.
“It’s super hard work. They don’t call it Hell’s Kitchen for nothing,” Candice says.
Joining her behind the hotplate will be polarising politician David Oldfield, Geordie Shore heartthrob Gary “Gaz” Beadle, The Chase Australia’s “supernerd” Issa Schultz, actor Lincoln Lewis, Olympic canoeist Jess Fox and Real Housewives of Melbourne star Pettifleur Berenger. TV sweetheart Sam Frost will also be testing her culinary prowess, as will former NRL player Willie Mason and actor Debra Lawrance, best known as Pippa on Home and Away.
Broken into two teams, the celebrities progress through a series of challenges to provide a three-course meal for a 70-seat restaurant.
However, as with any good reality cooking show, the challenge doesn’t finish with what’s served up on the plate but simmers constantly between contestants.
Candice has found an ally in Lawrance, whom she describes as “like everyone’s mum”, and an enemy in Oldfield, “who does a really good job of rubbing people the wrong way”.
Equally, the man in charge is as passionate about his food as he is fearsome, and was not hired to smooth over tension.
“It’s very tough and we’re on edge,” Candice says. “We’re scared, quite honestly. We’re scared of the kitchen, we’re scared of Marco and we’re scared of stuffing up.
“He’s so fierce and such a presence, and such a brilliant chef. I don’t want to let him down or make myself look like a fool.”
Before the competition, Candice’s culinary repertoire consists of three dishes: chicken schnitzel with salad, steak and vegies, and salmon with mashed potato.
Home-cooked meals have never been a priority for the Warners, who have spent much of their life on the road as a result of David’s cricket commitments.
“I want to be able to cook for my family. I want to be able to bring my family together with food, just like my mum used to,” Candice says. “I know it’s a very oldfashioned way of thinking but I feel as if a wife should be able to cook for her husband and kids.
“For me, I feel like I should be able to cook for my family, and if I can’t then I’m letting them down.”
The former model, who once grilled her finger while trying to make a cheese toastie, will certainly have her work cut out. And she’s aware nothing but diligence and determination will see her succeed, as Marco isn’t likely to be won over by “feminine charms”.
“He’s too much of a professional for that,” she says. “He can see through anyone who’s not on the show for the right reasons, or if someone’s not pulling their weight in the team. So I just plan to learn, observe and do the best job I can do. And if I can do that, then I’ll know I’m doing a good job.”
Now we’re cooking: Marco Pierre White looks over the shoulder of former iron-woman Candice Warner.