Can you bake?
No, I can’t bake. That is the very simple, honest answer. I’m much more of a cook than a baker.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Strengths? I can put everything together, I can weigh it out, I can whip it up, I can do all of that stuff. So I think I’d make a reasonable sous-chef for a baker. The one who weighs everything out and then leaves everything alone and gets someone else to put it all together.
Do you have a signature dish?
Not really in baking. When it comes to cooking, I do an amazing Caribbean chicken. It’s really, really good, everybody loves it. And I put potatoes in it, just because I’m Irish and you have to have a potato in there. In terms of baking, the only thing I really make is crumbles. If I have fruit lying around, I’ll put it into a crumble.
Have you ever had any culinary disasters?
My niece and I, when she was younger, we made a cake, we’d got a cake stand, we’d done the batter, we’d filled the tin, it was sitting on the side, and when we lifted the cake to put it in the oven, there was no bottom on it. We lifted it, and there was just batter all over the oven, all over the floor, just smeared on the inside of the oven. It wasn’t an easy clean up either. We just felt that this wasn’t for us. It’s fine to pass the time with the kids, but in terms of “Come over and taste my baking,” no.
What’s the worst thing you could be asked to make in the competition?
The worst thing would be anything sweet. I know sometimes they get to do savoury bakes, like a steak bake or a sausage roll. Something like that would be ideal.
Or if they just happened to ask you to make some Caribbean chicken.
That would be amazing, I would love that. Or some soup. Knock up some soup. But sadly, I don’t think that qualifies as baking.
Have you done anything in the way of practise or preparation for the competition?
I have not. I have a theory behind it. I know I’m not very good at it, and I thought “This is for such a good cause, I’m not going to pass up this opportunity to get involved. But if I practice just before and remind myself how bad I am at baking and decorating, I’m going to get really stressed out. And I would rather just come on and enjoy the experience, rather than remembering how bad I am at it.”
Have you done any baking during lockdown?
I made a few crumbles. If the fruit had seen better days, it would go in a crumble. I made a banana and peanut butter cake. But baking is so precise, I prefer a recipe where I can just add in a bit of this and a bit of that and see what happens.
Are you competitive? How badly do you want to win?
I am not competitive at all – I often think quite possibly to a fault. I don’t even like watching competitive stuff. I love watching cookery programmes, but I prefer it when there’s no competitive element. It sucks the fun out of it for me. Competition, for me, can often ruin things.
Why is Stand Up to Cancer important to you?
The statistics are awful, how many people are affected by cancer is really, really frightening. I have a close friend who’s battling it right now. And straightaway, when the opportunity to do this came up, I just thought “The more money there is, the more research, the quicker they are to finding a cure. They’ve come so far, and made such progress, but it’s not over yet. There’s so many things that still need to be done. It’s an ongoing situation, so I just want to help out any way I can.
You also had a scare yourself when you were younger, didn’t you?
I did, yeah. It’s a reminder that you have to get yourself regularly checked, and you have to stay on top of it. It’s all about catching it early, learning what early signs and symptoms might be so you can catch it early, and all of that takes research and effort and money, so I’m all for that.
Do you think there will be thousands of people tuning in just to hear you say the word ‘flour’? [She said the word ‘flour’ as ‘floyerr’ on Sunday Brunch in 2010 and it went viral).
No! Well, maybe a few. But I don’t think I’ll be aware of what I’m saying. I think I’ll just kind of zone out as soon as I get the baking stuff in front of me. So, I don’t know what I’ll say.
You’re a big Bake Off fan, aren’t you?
I love watching Bake Off. I love cooking programmes, and this one is so good, because you can put this on at any time. And everybody from kids to adults loves it. And I really like the celebrity version because it’s all about having fun. I feel so bad when you see people putting their heart and soul into it, and they get upset, and they cry, and my heart is breaking for them. And you think “It’s only bread.” But different things mean a lot to different people. But yes, I do really like the show.
Presumably, however bad your bakes get, nothing can be quite as unpleasant as some of the stuff you had to eat during Bushtucker Trials?
Absolutely, that is very, very true. Having done those, I won’t be afraid to try whatever mess I will make in the tent.