THIS MUCH I KNOW
‘Sometimes I’m all for
getting something out of a packet!’
The most influential cook in my life has been my adoptive dad. He was a language teacher, travelled extensively and was passionate about food. But I’d never cooked side by side with him until recently, for my TV show. He made garlic potatoes, while I made burgers. I knew I was adopted from the start. My parents were white and I was black, but you don’t think of that when you’re a child. I don’t feel there’s something missing. Some adopted children feel that there’s a piece of the puzzle missing. I know my birth parents’ names. I know I’ve got three brothers and one sister, I know that some of them are in London, but I don’t have any desire or need to find them. One family is enough. I remember having to see my social worker every week. She’d ask, ‘How are you, Lorraine?’ But I wasn’t interested in talking, I just wanted to get to the part where she’d buy me a bun and I’d lick and nibble the icing off. Growing up, I was always, always eating and I’d spend all my pocket money on chocolate brownies. People called me ‘hollow legs’ because they couldn’t understand where it went! I’m a dustbin on set. Since I’ve become known for cooking on TV [her shows include Baking Made Easy, Home Cooking Made Easy and Fast, Fresh and Easy Food], some hecklers in the street – women – say,‘You can’t be eating that food!’ which I think is interesting, because not only am I shown eating but I’m trying out seven or eight recipes a day. I enjoyed modelling but I wasn’t passionate about it. A few years ago I gave it up and started doing loads of different courses, trying to find the one that really made me tick. I did a hundred different things and gave up halfway through. And then [in 2005] I enrolled in a course at Leiths School of Food and Wine. I fell in love with it, it was like putting on the right clothes or shoes or something. It just… fit. I collect flat shoes, especially ballerina flats. I wear them because it’s too hard walking around in heels all day. If I need clothes, I go to Westfield London Shopping Centre, because it has all my favourite shops under one roof:Topshop, Zara, Primark and Miu Miu. When I was modelling, there were many dinners. Obviously, I wasn’t eating much back then, usually nothing more than a green salad and some dressing, but I did get to look at some amazing food. I am a chef, yes, but I am also human. Sometimes I’m all for getting something out of a packet! Or going to the shop and buying something, pricking holes in it and putting it in the oven. But when I have time, I cook. I’m just being myself. I’m a single mother who works hard. I love ready meals, especially supermarket ownbrand ones. I don’t cook from scratch every day. I put on weight when I am shooting. I am who I am. I got married in my early twenties and then a year or two later had my daughter. I have a very close relationship with Ella, who is 17 now. I’m really happy that I had a child young, it’s a nice way of doing it. It’s unfortunate that my marriage didn’t work out, but I suppose getting married very young is a bit of a gamble. Because of my own start in life, I’ve tried to make Ella’s upbringing as stable as possible. I think my mental toughness is genetic. My adoptive parents both gave me great guidance in other areas but as far as inner strength goes, I think it must come from [my own] nature. My mother used to say, ‘Be tough, be strong and if you want to cry, don’t cry in front of them. Don’t let them know they’ve got to you.’ I’m not someone who ever feels settled, although in the last few years I’ve felt more settled than ever before. I say,‘Success is not final and failure is not fatal.’ I take every day as it comes and I don’t like to look too far ahead. I don’t know if it’s going to last. The most important lesson life has taught me is to keep trying until you get it right.