Q&A: Par­a­lympian Stef Reid on swap­ping ath­let­ics for MasterChef

The Herald on Sunday - Sunday Herald Life - - Cover Story Interview -

CELEBRITY MasterChef 2018 con­tes­tant Stef Reid is a dou­ble Par­a­lympic sil­ver medal­list and the reign­ing world cham­pion in the T44 long jump. Born in New Zealand and brought up in Toronto, Canada, she has strong Scot­tish roots thanks to a Glaswe­gian fa­ther.

Reid, 33, took up para-ath­let­ics af­ter she lost her right foot in a boat­ing ac­ci­dent as a teenager. She com­petes for Great Bri­tain and is mar­ried to Cana­dian T53 wheel­chair rac­ing star Brent Lakatos who is a Par­a­lympic gold medal­list and 11-time world cham­pion.

Tell us about your cook­ing back­ground?

When you are an ath­lete, un­less you have the means to em­ploy a full-time pri­vate chef, you need to learn how to cook. The only way to con­trol what you eat is to make it your­self. The fur­ther down the road I’ve gone in my ca­reer, the more im­por­tant food has been as a per­for­mance tool. MasterChef was an op­por­tu­nity to take that to an­other level. I wanted to be­come a bet­ter cook.

Does be­ing an ath­lete change your ap­proach to the show?

It is easy to make some­thing taste de­li­cious when you load it with but­ter and salt. I have never cooked that way. I come home starv­ing af­ter train­ing and I don’t care how it looks. Be­ing on the show has chal­lenged me to think about food dif­fer­ently.

You grew up in Toronto – a city with a real melt­ing pot of cuisines – did that have an in­flu­ence?

At my school there was a heavy Asian in­flu­ence with peo­ple from China and Korea, so a lot of that food is fa­mil­iar to me. I had friends with roots in the Mid­dle East, such as Egypt or Ar­me­nia, and would go over to their houses to eat. I have al­ways had dif­fer­ent in­flu­ences and I like ex­otic food.

Your fa­ther is from Glas­gow. Has he in­tro­duced you to any Scot­tish del­i­ca­cies?

He did try to sell me hag­gis, but it never quite worked. The one thing that sticks was when we would go to the Scot­tish bak­ery in Toronto and would have square sausages on a de­li­cious roll. Then, if we were re­ally lucky, my dad would bring home some Irn-Bru oc­ca­sion­ally.

It’s date night. What’s on the menu?

The real win­ner from MasterChef is my hus­band Brent. Now if we have a date night, I would maybe do some duck with a fancy sauce. Per­haps a beef Welling­ton.

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