Ruislip & Eastcote & Northwood Gazette

Food brings everybody together

Mary Berry talks to PRUDENCE WADE about getting out of the kitchen and touring the country for her latest show


DAME MARY BERRY’S new television show takes her out of the kitchen and into more unusual locations, including the cricket pitch.

“I’ve had a wonderful time. I’ve been to Edgbaston (Birmingham’s cricket ground) talking to Jonny Bairstow – that was great, because just afterwards he scored two centuries. I think I gave him luck,” the 87-year-old says cheekily.

“He was such a lovely man.” Mary feels right at home in a cricket club, having watched her husband and children play over the years and made many a tea along the way.

Family is the central thread of her new six-part cooking show, Cook And Share. Each episode takes the former Great British Bake Off judge to somewhere in the UK which has a personal connection. Bristol, for instance, is a place she often visited at weekends when growing up in nearby Bath, and where she had her first job after college.

“I have a granddaugh­ter at uni there, and it was lovely to get back to Bristol,” she says.

It was also where her youngest son William went to university. Tragically, he was killed in a car crash aged just 19, and during her trip, she visits his memorial plaque.

Mary finds the city much changed from her youth. “There are new things happening,” she says. “There’s an area I’ve visited by the dockside, and they have shipping containers all along the bank. They’re all individual­s doing their particular thing – a lot of food items and accessory items. The council has made them reasonable to rent.

“People set up their own shops, and people go to buy their (items), or have different foods. It really is great, and it’s a different area for the tourists.”

Then there’s the trip to Edinburgh, in her mother’s homeland of Scotland.

“I started the marathon there,” Mary says, quickly adding that she didn’t actually do all 26.2 miles, but was on hand to serve the runners after they’d completed the route.

In another episode, Mary helps to cater for a wedding with 400 guests.

“I knew nothing about an Indian wedding. It was absolutely amazing – the groom coming in all dressed up, on a white horse. It was unbelievab­le, and the bride in red,” Mary says. “She was in this gorgeous dress with her shoes – Jimmy Choos with a heel so high. I caught her afterwards walking in bare feet.

“The menu was Indian, and delicious – so different to a wedding we have, and it goes on for days.”

It was certainly a new experience for the veteran cook, and one that had her thinking back to her own wedding more than 50 years ago.

She married Paul Hunnings in Bath, going on to have three children (Thomas, Annabel and William) together. They have given the couple five grandchild­ren.

Compared to the extravagan­za she helped cater, Mary says: “Our wedding was very, very low-key. We were married at two o’clock, came back to my parents’ house, and had tea – that was nice sandwiches, raspberrie­s and cream. Five o’clock comes, and off you go on your honeymoon – none of these evening parties. It didn’t go on for days.”

And yet Mary can still see the similariti­es between the two weddings: a love of good food.

“Food brings everybody together,” she says simply. “So the better the food, the more they enjoy it.”

When we speak, Mary is looking forward to her next adventure for the show: going to Wilderness Festival. But make no mistake – this isn’t her first music festival.

“I’ve been to Camp Bestival, where I was playing the drums,” she says, referring to when she got on stage with Rick Astley in 2018. “I love the atmosphere, because everybody’s out to enjoy themselves.”

She particular­ly enjoys the vibe of Wilderness, because it’s “all about food and music”.

She says: “There are all different stalls of food for people to taste. It’s very much about food, and I’m looking forward to meeting all the people who are making it.”

This year, she’s hoping to eat some Mexican, adding “it’s quite popular” among street food stalls.

Mary’s keen on broadening her horizons, and at Wilderness will be learning from a Swedish chef who impresses her: Niklas Ekstedt.

“He cooks with fire, and that is really interestin­g,” she explains.

“He bakes actually in the coals. He has a restaurant in Sweden – it’s always full of people who like the different way of cooking.”

The common thread running through the series is sharing food – and how this can bring us together. The show runs as a companion to her new cookbook of the same name, and Mary is well aware how our approach to food has changed over the years.

“Having food at home has changed, it’s less formal. And also if you’re going out very often there are sharing platters it’s all much more relaxed, don’t you think?” she says.

I’ve been to Camp Bestival, where I was playing the drums Dame Mary Berry on getting on stage with Rick Astley

■ Mary Berry – Cook And Share starts on BBC2 , tonight (Wednesday), 8pm

 ?? ?? Dame Mary Berry with one of the tasty recipes from her new book and upcoming series Cook and Share
Dame Mary Berry with one of the tasty recipes from her new book and upcoming series Cook and Share
 ?? ?? It’s not often Mary is all at sea, but she had no choice on this fishing trip
It’s not often Mary is all at sea, but she had no choice on this fishing trip
 ?? ?? Mary with Nirav and Kajal and their family on their wedding day
Mary with Nirav and Kajal and their family on their wedding day

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