BBC Good Food - - Inside - in­ter­view ROSANNA GREEN­STREET

Angellica Bell on her most mem­o­rable food mo­ments

Angellica Bell presents The Big Fam­ily Cook­ing Show­down on BBC Two with chef Tommy Banks. She was pre­vi­ously the face of CBBC and since 2007, has been a re­porter on BBC One’s The One Show.

Last year, she demon­strated her pas­sion for food, win­ning Celebrity Masterchef.

The mum-of-two is mar­ried to for­mer CBBC co-pre­sen­ter Michael Un­der­wood.

My first food mem­ory is be­ing in my gran’s kitchen in the Caribbean.

I re­mem­ber eat­ing fried plan­tain, stews with dumplings and mac­a­roni cheese. She was a cook in a school when she first ar­rived in the UK.

I was a mas­sive fan of school din­ners. I loved fish fin­gers, chips and baked beans, and jam tart with cus­tard – I never liked packed lunches.

When my step­dad, from York­shire, joined our fam­ily, he kept talk­ing about toad-in-the-hole. I was quite young, prob­a­bly seven or eight, and I didn’t know what he was go­ing on about. But then he made it and I loved it. My fam­ily were from the Caribbean and had set­tled in London and that area was all I knew but, be­cause of my step­dad, we started to go up north and travel around the coun­try. I think that’s when I started to love the coun­try­side.

When I got the job at CBBC, one of the first trips I did was to La­p­land in 2000. I was film­ing Christ­mas links with Michael, but we were just friends then. I ate snails for the first time and rein­deer, which is their tra­di­tional dish – and I re­mem­ber ev­ery­thing be­ing in as­pic!

The first meal that Michael cooked for me was shep­herd’s pie. We’d only just started see­ing each other and I was ex­cited be­cause it was the first time that some­one I was dat­ing had cooked for me. Michael is the sort of cook who has to fol­low a recipe step by step. I got to his flat at 7pm and the food did not hit the ta­ble un­til 11pm. I was so hun­gry, I re­mem­ber think­ing, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m go­ing to have to or­der a pizza.’ It was high-end shep­herd’s pie – the veg­eta­bles were chopped beau­ti­fully and he did his own gravy. I was im­pressed, even though I was starv­ing!

Michael did Masterchef first, in 2012. He got to the fi­nal. We had just had a baby and it was a stress­ful ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause he had to prac­tise in the evenings. I re­mem­ber think­ing, ‘I’m never do­ing that show.’ When they emailed me, I kept say­ing no, not least be­cause I knew that, if I didn’t do as well as Michael, it would be the run­ning joke for the rest of my life. In the end, in 2017, I said yes. Once I got to the fi­nal, I felt re­lieved and win­ning was the ic­ing on the cake. When we have din­ner par­ties, we share the cook­ing. He’ll cook the main and I’ll do dessert.

Our phi­los­o­phy was to start giv­ing the chil­dren all sorts of food be­fore they could talk and say, ‘I’m not eat­ing that.’ They are quite ad­ven­tur­ous and open-minded. They love be­ing in the kitchen and my lit­tlest is bril­liant at crack­ing eggs. I am try­ing to get them to en­joy mak­ing food like home­made pizza so they see the process and get ex­cited about it. They love sea bass but their favourite is a roast chicken din­ner with York­shire pud­dings. If there are no York­shire pud­dings, it’ll be a re­volt!

I am a big fan of the Amer­i­can break­fast. An­other CBBC trip that Michael and I did to­gether was to LA where we filmed with S Club Ju­niors. We had the best break­fast at Denny’s, which is a chain of din­ers. We had pan­cakes, maple syrup, eggs, ba­con – we just couldn’t stop eat­ing.

The last proper three-course meal that I cooked was in some­one else’s house. I was the prize in a school char­ity raf­fle. I cooked but­ter­nut squash gnoc­chi with a blue cheese sauce, roasted toma­toes and pine nuts, and then duck breast on a bed of hispi cab­bage with cro­quette pota­toes, or­ange and car­rot purée with a black­berry and red wine jus. Dessert was ap­ple and wal­nut crum­ble tart with home­made vanilla ice cream and ap­ple crisps. It was fun but stress­ful be­cause when­ever you cook for some­body you want it to be amaz­ing. The win­ners had in­vited some friends round and at first they thought it was a bit ran­dom hav­ing me in their house, but I told them, ‘This is your night, I am here for you to have a good time.’ I did ev­ery­thing and washed up and they were so happy.

Look out for Angellica in the new se­ries of The Big Fam­ily Cook­ing Show­down this au­tumn.

When we have din­ner par­ties, Michael cooks the main and I do dessert

Angellica and hus­band Michael Un­der­wood

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