Can you bake?
A little bit. I do like cooking, and I cook a lot for pleasure, but I don’t tend to do sweet things. I know my way around a kitchen. But this is the first time I’ve done much baking. I had a little bit of a practice. If it had been savoury, I would have backed myself a bit more. It’s a slightly relatable skill. So, my answer would be ‘somewhat’.
Describe your baking style in one word.
What’s your favourite baked good?
It would be savoury. Maybe a steak bake.
What’s been your biggest culinary triumph?
Listen, I love the guy, and I cook a lot of his recipes, but getting some of Ottolenghi’s recipes down to under four hours… he’s a genius, and I love his recipe books, but they do take a long time. And you need lots and lots of ingredients. There’s a lot of method hidden in the ingredients, like stuff that’s ‘toasted and then ground’. So, getting my Ottolenghi recipes up to speed is my greatest culinary triumph.
And your biggest disaster?
The practice runs for this competition were really bad. I sent a message to the producer where I said “I’m genuinely quite frightened now.”
You’re now the third of the Inbetweeners to appear on the show. Have you spoken to the others about their experiences?
No, I haven’t. I know that James made a toilet, which may even have had a poo in it. It’s good to know that our brand hasn’t lost any of its core identity. I’ve stayed in my own lane and tried not to be affected by what they did. But now that it’s done, I’ll probably get in touch and compare notes. It would be really fun to get the four of us in the tent together – a real royal rumble, because I think that could get quite spicy. But I don’t know whether this is something in Simon’s wheelhouse.
What are the strengths and weaknesses you’ll bring with you into the tent?
When I’m at home, I’m precise, but I’m very slow. So, when I’m in the tent, I speed up, but I become messy. My weakness is definitely presentation. And I think my strength is taste – I do think it tastes nice. But I’m terrible at presentation. I’m really, really, really bad at art – I can’t draw anything.
On Taskmaster, you were asked to make the most realistic injury using food. Is there a danger that all of your bakes might end up looking like some kind of hideous injury?
Yeah, that is a problem. One of my bakes has had a ‘my first Halloween’ vibe to it. There is an element of panic and danger to some of the things I’ve produced, you can almost smell the chaos. But I hope they don’t remind the judges of injuries, and I also hope that no injuries are caused by the judges eating them. I’d like there to be a clear distinction between my work on Taskmaster and my work here.
Are you a fan of Bake Off?
Yes, I am. Very much so. A big fan. The only ones I haven’t watched are the ones with the celebrities. It’s been really amazing, just being in the tent. It feels like we should be paying for the privilege. It’s really lovely. I like the presenters, I think they’re really funny, and I like the judges, so it’s really great. I like food TV generally, but Bake Off’s a really special one, and I like the variation. The technical is a nice highlight, it’s nice seeing people be put on the spot.
What would it mean to you to get a Hollywood handshake?
It would be a dream. I don’t think it’s going to happen, because he doesn’t just give them away. They have to be earned. But I would settle for some Hollywood approval, some common or garden approval would be fine. I’d rather not get one, than get one and have it cheapen the brand of the handshake.
Are you competitive? How badly do you want to win?
I’m not bothered about winning, I just don’t want to embarrass myself. I feel like that’s a pretty common feeling. I’m not in it to win, I’m here to have a bit of a good time, and not to utterly disgrace myself. That’s the aim. I want to give a good account of myself.
Why is Stand Up to Cancer important to you?
Like many people, there have been people very close to me who we’ve lost to cancer. It’s a cruel disease, and it’s really the ultimate cruelty for people who love each other to be denied time together. When cancer has affected your life, I think what you realise is that almost literally the only thing that matters in life is time with the people you love. In the end, the point of all this research is to give people who love each other more time together. That’s the thing that makes life worth living.