Celebrity Masterchef

Host Gregg Wal­lace on what’s on the menu for this year’s Celebrity Masterchef

TV Times - - Front Page - Elaine Reilly

Celebrity Masterchef is an an­nual hit and re­li­able rat­ings win­ner. Un­like many of its re­al­ity show ri­vals, the BBC1 cook­ery com­pe­ti­tion sticks firmly to its orig­i­nal for­mat, never re­sort­ing to spic­ing up the de­li­cious recipe of judg­ing stars’ cook­ing skills and elim­i­nat­ing them one by one.

‘All of the celebri­ties seem very sur­prised when they come on and just cook,’ laughs Gregg Wal­lace, who’s been host­ing and judg­ing the show with co-star John Torode since 2006. ‘They must think there’s un­seen help off-cam­era.

‘I’ve been do­ing Masterchef for a long time now, and Celebrity Masterchef is al­ways a favourite.

It’s great fun and also has a good rep­u­ta­tion in the in­dus­try for look­ing af­ter con­tes­tants – we never hu­mil­i­ate any­one. We don’t cre­ate drama for rat­ings. There’s a de­cency about the show, I think.’

The 12th series will again see a di­verse mix of celebs in the kitchen. Putting on the fa­mous Masterchef aprons this week are news­reader Ju­lia Somerville, snooker leg­end Stephen Hendry, TV pre­sen­ter An­gel­lica Bell, co­me­dian Jim Moir (aka Vic Reeves) and French ten­nis cham­pion Henri Le­conte.

Mean­while, among the fa­mous faces fea­tured in later weeks are Out­num­bered’s Tyger Drew-honey, and Gog­gle­box’s Rev Kate Bot­t­ley.

Here, in an ex­clu­sive chat with TV Times, Gregg re­veals the se­cret in­gre­di­ents to the show’s suc­cess…

What makes Celebrity Masterchef so spe­cial to you?

As the celebri­ties have ex­pe­ri­enced the lime­light or worked on telly be­fore, they’re rarely as scared as am­a­teur con­tes­tants, who can be­come frozen to the spot or their hands shake un­con­trol­lably. All you want from the celebri­ties in the early rounds is to show some de­cent, ba­sic cook­ery skills!

What else gives the celebrity ver­sion an ex­tra kick?

Two things al­ways sur­prise me about Celebrity Masterchef: some

of these guys can re­ally cook; and some of them can’t cook at all. I don’t know why this still as­ton­ishes me, but it does! Every­one re­alises very quickly that Masterchef is about cook­ing and that they can’t ‘celeb their way out of it’, as I call it! There’s no singing, jok­ing or danc­ing their way out of the sit­u­a­tion – although some do try!

Celebrity Masterchef at­tracts an amaz­ing ar­ray of peo­ple. are you ever starstruck?

I love rugby, so when big Phil Vick­ery [for­mer English rugby union player] came on in 2011 and won it, I was de­lighted. I was also like a lit­tle girl meet­ing the Spice Girls when Paul Young was on the first show in 2006 – I’m a big fan of his early band Q-tips. Over the years, John and I have be­come bet­ter known, so I feel more of an equal to them now. I don’t think they’re par­tic­u­larly starstruck by me; they’re more in awe of the com­pe­ti­tion. They would have seen the qual­ity food the fi­nal­ists pro­duce in pre­vi­ous series!

What makes a win­ner?

It’s im­pos­si­ble to know when they walk through the door. Ini­tially, all you want is sim­ple, homely food, as you can build on that. Age doesn’t al­ways equal ex­pe­ri­ence. Some peo­ple come to cook­ery very late and there’s also the ‘old dogs, new tricks’ phe­nom­e­non. It can be much eas­ier to teach peo­ple who haven’t picked up bad habits. I main­tain that the win­ner of Masterchef is rarely the best cook at the start – it’s usu­ally the per­son with the abil­ity to learn very fast.

do you have a favourite round? Yes, when they cook their own food. It’s in­vari­ably bet­ter than what they’ve given us pre­vi­ously! I like that they cook in a restau­rant kitchen – it’s the ul­ti­mate bap­tism of fire. They al­ways come out with a new re­spect for pro­fes­sional chefs.

Fi­nally, do you ever feel mis­chievous when it comes to mys­tery-box in­gre­di­ents?

John and I don’t choose the in­gre­di­ents, but the pro­duc­ers do ask us what we think of them. You don’t want to be too mis­chievous and throw them com­pletely.

The win­ner of Celebrity Masterchef is rarely the best cook at the start GREGG wal­lace

food / 8.00pm / BBC1 We can imag­ine John Torode and Gregg Wal­lace tak­ing a deep breath – and maybe a cou­ple of in­di­ges­tion tablets – be­fore the start of the celebrity ver­sion of their show. In the ‘nor­mal’ Masterchef there is usu­ally a pretty high stan­dard of cook­ing, but that isn’t al­ways the case when the stars come into the kitchen! Tonight, how­ever, the stan­dard is gen­er­ally pretty good. Stephen Hendry, Ju­lia Somerville, An­gel­lica Bell, Henri Le­conte and Jim Moir (aka Vic Reeves) are tonight’s five stars. Their first chal­lenge is the mys­tery box, fol­lowed by the heat and pres­sure of the pro­fes­sional kitchen and, fi­nally, a chance to show off their finest two cour­ses – in an hour!

Is Jim Moir get­ting saucy in the kitchen?

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