I love waltzing around a stove, but don’t judge me
Strictly Anton facing criticism in kitchen
As Strictly Come Dancing’s longest-serving pro dancer, Anton Du Beke should know a recipe for success is taking on board judges’ comments.
But when he swapped sequins for saucepans in ITV’s Cooking With The Stars, he discovered that he hates being told what he does well and not so well – in the kitchen at least.
Anton admits his new-found dislike for TV judges is rather awkward, after the recent announcement that he has become one, since hanging up his dance shoes to join the Strictly judging panel permanently this year.
Anton, 55 – who failed to win the show during his 18 years as a professional dancer – laughs: “I discovered that I hate being judged.
“I won’t lie to you, the judges really got on my nerves, getting all critical. Which I suppose defeats the object of me being in a cooking competition.
“The dishes I have made have been really good, especially that pork dish which looked terrific and tasted amazing. What the judges thought about my process bothers me not a jot. I’d rather they didn’t tell me what they thought about it.
“That was my biggest problem. I realised I really couldn’t give less of a sh** about what the judges thought.”
The dishes I’ve made have been good. I couldn’t give a sh** about what judges think
ANTON DU BEKE
ON COOKING WITH STARS EXPERIENCE
Anton is proud of how far he has progressed on the cooking show, and while he might have some laughs in the kitchen, he’s very serious – if not that hopeful – about trying to win.
“I might be singing away or dancing around the kitchen, but that’s just the way I do stuff. I’m absolutely in it to win it. I wouldn’t have entered unless I thought I could.”
Would it make up for not lifting the glitterball trophy?
“I never won it and it is a regret. The one I’m now hoping for is the National Television Award, for best judge. That’s the one I really want. If I won that I’d be the happiest bunny in town.”
In Cooking With The Stars, eight celebrities are paired with professional mentors who teach them how to cook an array of dishes – a format Anton is familiar with.
However he admits he has never really cooked in his life.
“I ate out every day until I met my wife,” says Anton, who is paired with TV chef Rosemary Shrager. “I was always out in studios, rehearsing, lessons, dancing, then later in life, television, theatres. I was never at home and I’d never cooked a thing.”
Rosemary had to start with the basics – from teaching Anton how to switch on an oven and hold a knife.
“I’d brought zero knowledge whatsoever,” he admits. However Anton says has now started cooking for wife Hannah and their five-year-old twins George and Henrietta.
“My wife’s really supportive. She was always very good with the fact I never cooked. It was pointless saying to me, ‘why don’t you cook something?’ because she knew I couldn’t. It was the same as me saying to her, ‘why don’t you dance something?’
“My children are impressed with my cooking now, they love it. I’m really quite a talented cook, Or rather, a very talented chef at the very few dishes Rosemary’s taught me to cook.
“I’d like to continue with cooking though, I’ll probably go along to Rosemary’s cookery
schools when I have time. I like getting a bit cheffy, and I like to flounce a bit around the kitchen.”
Anton is now officially a Strictly judge in his own right after standing in for Bruno Tonioli last series while he was on Dancing With the Stars in the US and couldn’t travel back and forth because of the pandemic.
Bruno has now resigned and Anton will return to the panel with Shirley Ballas, Motsi Mabuse and Craig Revel Horwood, knowing for the first time that the spot is permanently his.
Anton believes his experience as a competitor will help him beat his colleagues to the best judge gong. “I’ll be the same as I was last year, you are what you are,” he says. “I try to be supportive, I also take it from the perspective that I’ve been where they are, I try to use my experience of dancing on the show to understand where they are at the moment.
Idon’t think many contestants on Strictly like being judged either, unless it’s positive. Nobody likes being criticised, especially when you’ve been trying your best.
“There’s a difference between not being able to pull something off and it not going well on the night. If I see something on the night that I know has been going well all week, I’ll put it down to nerves. I’ll try to be supportive and give them something they can use moving forward.”
There is one thing he won’t miss about being a dancer.
He says: “Yes there are moments of sadness that I’m not dancing any more, but no so much.
“The thing about the show that I’ve always found the most difficult is being voted off, and I’m happy that I won’t be voted off any more. I hate that, but it’s part of the show.”
■ Cooking With The Stars is on ITV, Tuesdays, 8pm