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)

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

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

E150/2014 - English Language Checker (Grade B3)

On Application: Council of Europe: The European Court of Human Rights’s judgme...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Project Manager - Bristol South West

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice