• MasterChef Live Demonstration Recipe

    Being surrounded by great chefs and wonderful ingredients is always inspiring. Today I came home from MasterChef Live with a fabulous stash of game birds left over from my "hints and tips" demonstration in which I showed how easy it is to joint anything from a chicken to a quail, via duck, pheasant, guinea fowl and partridge.

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  • Discovering a whole new world

    Finally, having spent the last few months working out exactly what it is I'm going to do and how to do it, things are really beginning to happen. I'm not giving up yet on a future writing career but since that is proving much harder than I expected to break into I have turned my attention to setting up my small new business giving cookery demonstrations and classes in my kitchen at home here in Berkshire, and providing various catering services.

    My website, as you can see, is now up and running and was almost as much of a challenge as my first MasterChef audition. I've never embarked on anything quite so technical before and was a complete novice in the area of website building. URLs, Pagemasters, Domains, Analytics; it's all a completely new language to me but one that I have, much to my suprise, rather enjoyed learning about. Beyond the technicalities, designing and building the site was a far more creative process than I had anticipated and there was a lot about it that I found strangely satisfying. I'm rather thrilled with the results too and just hope that I can encourage enough people to look at it and, ultimately, sign up for some of my courses.

    To help with all that "driving traffic" (love a bit of lingo and there's plenty in this world) I've even dipped my toe in the murky waters of Twitter which is not something I ever thought I would do. I'm finding it rather terrifying because I have very little idea how it works; what's the difference between a reply and a retweet? If I reply to someone, does it just go to them or can everyone see it? If someone follows you are you honour bound to follow them back? I feel like I'm foundering around a strange room in the dark, hoping that someone will turn the lights on but slightly nervous of what they'll see if they do.

    The only problem is that spending all this time at my computer means that I've spent far less in the kitchen which is never a good state of affairs. If I'm really going to be teaching people lots of new dishes to cook for their families in a few weeks I'd better get my apron back on and start trying out some recipes. Later in November there's another course covering a complete seasonal dinner party. I'm really excited about that one; it's just about my favourite time of year for delicious, rich and highly flavoured ingredients.

    But this weekend will provide a good opportunity to get back to my more familiar territory. A friend of mine was given a "kitchen experience" at L'Ortolan for his 40th birthday recently. He absolutely loved his day there and when he found out that I was working there once a week got very excited about the two of us cooking for a dinner party together, putting into practise some of the skills he was taught. So I'm really looking forward to spending a day in my kitchen with someone who will be just as enthusiastic as me about trying out some new ideas and doing our best to create something with a bit of a "restaurant" edge to it. The only problem is going to be deciding which of their fabulous dishes to try to emulate, but whatever we cook I'm sure I'll feel much more confident navigating my way through those ingredients than I do trying to decode "twettiquette".

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  • In the Kitchen at L'Ortolan

    One of my reasons for applying to take part on MasterChef was that I hoped it would lead to all sorts of exciting new experiences and opportunities but whilst I certainly wanted to make a career out of food, working in a professional kitchen was never part of my plan. Unlike many other competitors, I had no wish to start my own restaurant, café or patisserie, mainly because it was unlikely to fit in with family life. As a result, it didn’t immediately occur to me that getting some experience in a top restaurant kitchen would do much to help me achieve my goals of writing and teaching about food and cookery. But then two things happened in quick succession to make me change my mind.

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  • Something to celebrate - I think

    Having had all the excitement of MasterChef, firstly with the filming in 2010 and then the relief and fun of everyone finding out all about it when it went on air, life could have felt rather flat once it was all over. Luckily though, I had another significant event to "look forward to" as my 40th birthday was fast approaching.

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  • From MasterChef days: Leaving the competition

    If I had been told when I applied for MasterChef that I was going to come 6th, I would never have believed it. At that stage, I wasn’t even sure whether or not I was good enough to get onto the programme at all, so being part of the final 20 was incredibly exciting. The problem though, is that the further you go, the more your expectations and ambitions grow. My first few rounds went pretty well. The dish I cooked in the “egg inventions test” was good enough to put me straight through to the final 12. The reaction to my orange and pomegranate cake made me realise that I really did deserve my place in the final 10 and could stand up even to that tough competition.

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Welcome to my blog

I'll be blogging regularly to keep everyone up to date with how things are going with the cookery demos and including lots of tempting recipes. Let me know what you think!

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