Cracker Pack 2019

We Grill: Lisa Faulkner

We put Lisa Faulkner in the hot-seat for this edition’s We Grill.

Actress Lisa Faulkner was crowned Celebrity MasterChef in 2010. A mum to Billie, six, and dating John Torode, after the success of her debut book ‘Recipes from my Mother to my Daughter’ her second book ‘The Way I Cook’ is out in September…

Tell us about your second book…

I cook different things at different times which was the inspiration behind The Way I Cook. It’s divided into chapters, such as, For Family and Friends, On Rainy Days, When the Sun is Shining….

Was this more nerve racking than your first book?

It’s funny as when writing a second book there’s quite a bit of pressure especially as the first did so well, but I loved writing it and I hope that people love cooking from it.

How does this differ from your first?

That was a collection of recipes from my mum and friends and family. My mum passed away when I was 16 so it was influenced by my memories of her cooking as food was a big part of family life. My new one is along the same lines with explanations on why I’ve chosen certain recipes, but they are arranged into different chapters identified by the way I like to cook at certain times.

What’s your earliest food memory?

My mum cooking; hearing the knife on the chopping board and her wedding ring tinkling against her glass rolling pin as she shaped the pastry. I’ve now got that glass rolling pin and it is my secret weapon in the art of pastry.

What made you appear on MasterChef?

I love the series and when the opportunity came up I thought I’d spend a couple of nice days filming, meeting John and Gregg and of course cooking, which I loved. But as I got through each round I suddenly realised how serious it is. They throw you in at the deep end and I had to cook in working restaurants, the Orient Express and in a Chateux in Paris. It was the most amazing experience and has opened so many doors.

What dishes helped you be crowned winner?

There were so many which taught me processes, skills and of course boosted my confidence as I was out of my comfort zone. My final three I was judged on were; goats cheese and red onion tart with thyme pastry served with red onion marmalade and a rocket salad, pan friend monkfish with a butternut squash fondant and a dessert of almond panna cotta with poached tamarillos and berries.

Do you think there are similiarities between being an actress and a chef?

I think they are very different disciplines. I’m still passionate about being an actor but my love of food has opened up so many new opportunities.

Have you had any cooking disasters?

A few years ago I was cooking for a dinner party and making a meatball dish of Nigella’s. I decided to do it in a slow cooker and it didn’t cook so for some reason I put it on the hob where it then exploded!

What’s your signature dish?

My family favourite is a roast dinner but I also love steak. I don’t think I have a signature dish as such, I just like to cook different dishes for the way I feel at that moment.

Who do you think is a better cook between you and John?!

John obviously! After I won MasterChef I worked at the kitchens at Smiths of Smithfield to gain experience and saw how incredibly talented he is.

What does your daughter like you to cook?

She enjoys helping me in the kitchen and loves food so I’m really lucky that I don’t have too much of a problem with her getting to eat. She doesn’t eat chips, but although she isn’t a biggest fan of fish she does like my fish cakes!

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Chocolate or cheese. I love all kinds of cheese but there is one that tops the rest; a brie with truffles in which I got from Le Fromagerie for one Christmas – but I ate it before then!

Where do you like to eat out in the UK and what’s your favourite restaurant abroad?

When I go abroad I like to discover little restaurants but I do love Thomas Keller’s restaurant Per Se at Columbus Circle on the Fourth Floor of the Time Warner Center, New York. There are so many in the UK but I love Barrafina and the Opera Tavern.

What ingredient/product could you not live without?

Marmite! I add a teaspoon to chilli, cottage pie, stocks and all sorts of things.

What is going to be the hit dish for Autumn?

In terms of what I like to cook, then it will be the classics like venison, celeric and apple puree. While my comfort food is chicken-fried steak and creamed corn with mashed potato.

The Way I Cook is out 26th September published by Simon & Schuster priced £20. Follow Lisa on Twitter @lisafaulkner1 or log onto her website

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