Lisa Faulkner: The actress-turned-food broadcaster and writer talks McDonald's, sea urchins and roast-dinner cuddles

 

Winning 'Celebrity Masterchef' changed my life People usually go on to that show to have a nice time, but then go back to their day job. But I fell so in love with the cooking, I didn't want to stop. Since I won, I've worked in a number of kitchens, such as [London restaurant] Smiths of Smithfield, and published several cookery books. It's so nice to be doing a job where I'm not worrying whether the phone is going to ring [with an acting job].

The only good thing about modelling was eating out at restaurants I was 16 when I became a model and most of the time I couldn't be bothered to eat food: I was more interested in having cocktails and smoking fags – life was very different. I was told to lose weight but I never listened. A few of us would hang out at McDonald's and eat burgers together. But when I travelled around the world I'd eat at beautiful restaurants and eat amazing food.

Sea urchin is probably the weirdest thing I ate It's a spiky-looking thing with a horrid-tasting juice inside. I was at this big Japanese banquet when I was 17, and got served it. All the hosts were looking at me and waiting for me to eat it, but I was thinking, "What the hell is that?" It tasted like a combination of TCP and salt.

The kitchen is where I feel safe My mother [who died from throat cancer when Faulkner was 16] was an amazing cook and I have this memory as a kid, playing in our kitchen, and hearing this click-clicking noise as her ring would hit the glass rolling pin she used. I've still got that rolling pin. And when I use it now to roll my own pastries, sometimes I'll keep a ring on to hear that click-click; it reminds me of the smells of that kitchen.

My cooking always matches my mood When I'm feeling sad I like to make a roast dinner. It's like a great big cuddle on a plate and when I'm making it, I feel a sense of calm. Cooking is the only time I don't tend to worry about stuff.

keep your shoulders back and don't follow the crowd It's what my mum said to me, though I didn't really understand it until 10 years ago: you might sometimes want to be like everyone else, but do what you want to do. I just wish that I'd understood that fully when I was 16.

I thought I was going to get pregnant with IVF I was so completely positive that it didn't cross my mind that it wasn't going to work. Usually you have a wonderful bundle that comes out at the end of it, and makes all the physical and emotional effects of the treatment worth it. So when it didn't work, it hit me like a tonne of bricks. In the end, I got my bundle, but just in a different way [Faulkner adopted her daughter, Billie, when she was 15 months old; she is now seven].

Billie reconnects me to the memory of my mother The other day she said to me, "I want cauliflower cheese and roast chicken and roast potatoes." So Billie was helping me make the cauliflower-cheese sauce, chopping bits of garlic and leeks, adding salt and pepper and she said, "Mummy, you're going be my taster on this one." It's so cute.

I like to keep my relationship private [Faulkner began dating MasterChef co-presenter John Torode two years ago.] You have to look after relationships, and when you're having a nice time you don't want to have to talk about it. Though he would say that worrying is my worst habit.

Lisa Faulkner, 40, is best known for her roles in 'Holby City' and 'Spooks'. She now presents Channel 4 cookery programme 'What's Cooking?'. Her second book, 'The Way I Cook…', is out now (£20, Simon & Schuster)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas