C’est mag­nifique

TV Times - - Food On Tv - Yes Chef Mon-fri / BBC1 / 3.45PM Re­becca Fletcher

Sheree Mur­phy proved her­self to be pretty nifty in the kitchen on Celebrity Masterchef last year.

But she’s re­lieved to be pre­sent­ing, not com­pet­ing in, BBC1’S lat­est cook­ery con­test, Yes Chef – es­pe­cially as its judge is one of the world’s culi­nary greats, three-starred Miche­lin chef Pierre Koff­mann.

‘It’s a dream come true, I keep pinch­ing my­self,’ smiles the bub­bly, self-con­fessed foodie. In the day­time se­ries, which con­tin­ues this week, 16 of Bri­tain’s best pro­fes­sional chefs men­tor am­a­teur home cooks, who then go head to head in a Fri­day fi­nal judged by Pierre.

‘Peo­ple have been try­ing to get Pierre on TV for a very long time, so it’s an hon­our that he chose to do Yes Chef,’ adds Sheree, 41. ‘It’s so funny; all week we have top chefs with their own restau­rants and tons of awards putting home cooks through their paces, and then Pierre rocks up on a Fri­day and all the chefs turn into starstruck schoolkids!

‘Pierre has a huge pres­ence. One chef went, “It’s like God en­ter­ing the room!” They just want to im­press him. He’s The Boss, The Master!’

So how does French­man Pierre, who won his Miche­lin stars at his Lon­don restau­rant La Tante Claire, feel to be so revered by mod­ern greats such as Nathan Out­law, Michael O’hare and Paul Ainsworth?

‘Ha, what can I say? I’m a nice per­son, al­ways have been,’ winks Pierre, 68, ‘even though I was called “The Bear” in the kitchen when I was younger!’

‘They meant, “Teddy bear”,’ teases Sheree.

‘Se­ri­ously, 20 years ago when chefs started do­ing TV I thought it wouldn’t last,’ says Pierre, who is cur­rently head chef of Koff­mann’s at the Berke­ley Ho­tel in Lon­don.

‘Why would any­one want to watch when they couldn’t taste the food? I thought it was stupid but I was com­pletely wrong! Peo­ple en­joy watch­ing food shows. You can’t change your life – what’s done is done – but if I’d met Sheree and the rest of the Yes Chef team ear­lier, I’d have done more TV in my life.’

Praise in­deed. Here, Sheree talks ban­ter, Bake Off… and kiss­ing Neigh­bours star Paul Robin­son! Were you look­ing to host a cook­ery show?

No. It all came about be­cause I did Celebrity Masterchef last sum­mer [Sheree made the semi­fi­nals]. I said I loved cook­ery shows, so the call came ask­ing me to do Yes Chef and I jumped at it. To work with Pierre and Bri­tain’s finest chefs is amazing. I felt a bit in­tim­i­dated be­fore we met, but they’re all so down-to-earth. And fun! We laugh a lot on this show. for those who haven’t yet seen Yes Chef, what do the con­tes­tants have to do?

Each day the pro­fes­sional chefs put four home cooks through chal­lenges such as fil­let­ing a fish or mak­ing the per­fect tartare sauce, be­fore choos­ing the best am­a­teur to be­come their part­ner. They then com­pete in the ul­ti­mate pro-am show­down in Fri­day’s fi­nal.

Host Sheree Mur­phy and world-renowned French chef Pierre Koff­mann on their ul­ti­mate culi­nary bat­tle

Sounds in­tense!

It is, and it’s in­ter­est­ing to see the dy­nam­ics change on Fri­days, be­cause of the re­spect ev­ery­one has for Pierre. What’s lovely about him is that he’s car­ing – he gives the home cooks tips and sug­ges­tions. The am­a­teurs are in heaven – to learn from the best is amazing. do you cook with your kids [Sheree has four chil­dren with her Aus­tralian ex­foot­baller hus­band, Harry Kewell – tay­lor, 15, Ruby, 13, Matilda, eight, and dolly, four]? Oh yes, and we also sit down as a fam­ily to watch Masterchef and Bake Off – we’re all mad on bak­ing.

So do you fancy your chances on Celebrity Bake Off one day?

Of course – now I’m a dab hand in the kitchen again! do you pre­fer pre­sent­ing to act­ing? I love both. I was in Neigh­bours while we lived in Aus­tralia; kiss­ing Paul Robin­son, whom I’d grown up watch­ing, was sur­real. I’ve done a hat-trick of soaps now – Emmerdale, Hol­lyoaks and Neigh­bours – just Eastenders and Cor­rie to go! I kind of fell into pre­sent­ing and I’m su­per-happy to be do­ing Yes Chef. And my kids fi­nally think I’m cool!


Pre­sen­ter Sheree has all the right in­gre­di­ents – and Miche­lin chef Pierre is the cream on top

Lin­ing up on Celebrity Masterchef

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