I’ve hosted Masterchef for 11 years and my absolute pet hate is when we are served raw food by contestants...
What’s it like to host such an iconic programme?
It’s an absolute scream! Masterchef is honestly such a wonderful thing to be a part of, I’m really very lucky, I just get to mill about and taste all sorts of delicious food – it’s a dream job as far as I’m concerned. I particularly like to watch people following their dreams on the show and becoming something great.
Can you tell us any juicy secrets about the show that we don’t know at home?
The biggest secret is that the contestants don’t actually need us to judge them. What they should really do is keep the cameras rolling once the director shouts ‘Cut!’, because at that point the crew all appear. You wouldn’t believe it but the camera crew actually carry their own cutlery and the very minute we stop filming they just delve in and completely demolish whatever is there. The most delicious meals tend to get eaten the quickest – that’s the best way to judge it.
Were you surprised that Masterchef has become such a huge success?
I’m really surprised how well the show has done. It’s incredible to think that we’ve been going for 11 years now and that the latest series was the most viewed Masterchef of all time – it’s just unbelievably crazy. I have no idea what makes it so successful, but I’m really pleased it is so well received.
You must get annoyed with the contestants at times. What’s the most frustrating part of judging the show?
The most frustrating element is when you’re given the same old rubbish excuses from contestants. We get them over and over again, year in and year out. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve heard phrases like, ‘I was going to make this but I was missing one ingredient’. We are so fed up of hearing it. When people undercook meat they always say the same thing – ‘I didn’t want to overcook it’. All I can think is ‘Well no, I didn’t want you to do that either – I just wanted you to c cook it properly’.
Do you and John [Torode] ever get genuinely annoyed when contestants present rubbish dishes to you?
If I’m presented with something that’s not up to scratch I just think to myself, ‘Why are you on here wasting our time?’ It does really frustrate me as there are thousands of people that want to come on Masterchef, a lot of who are probably very good chefs, and some of the people that actually make it, don’t deserve it at all in my eyes.
What’s the worst dish you can remember tasting?
People always expect the answer to this to be some strange combination of food, which I have often had and believe me, it’s not great when you’re served a really odd concoction that doesn’t work. But, the worst thing is when someone offers us raw food. It is my pet hate! It’s awful when we go to taste something and it looks cooked and golden brown on the outside, then you cut into it and it’s completely raw in the middle. It’s disgusting!
What’s the best dish?
Steven Wallis [2007 winner] made a wonderful classic called a Pear Belle Helene. A pear poached in vanilla and dessert wine, served with Chantilly cream and a chocolate sauce. If you didn’t want to eat it, you would take it home and snog it! I think I can still taste it.