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My secret life: Thomasina Miers

Chef & cookery writer, 33

The home I grew up in ... was a big, rambling house in Acton, west London. We bought it from an Irishman who was on the run from the police at the time. My father was arrested the first time he went to look round it.

When I was a child I wanted to be ... a dancer.

The moment that changed me for ever ... was first watching the movie of 'Grease' at my grandmother's house. The final scene with the dancing and the black leather trousers made me want to live.

I ride ... a push-bike – my trusty steed, which gets me everywhere.

If I could change one thing about myself ... it would be my inability to listen.

At night I dream of ... happy dreams involving the sea. If I'm not happy, I don't generally sleep.

What I see when I look in the mirror ... is a gappy-toothed woman.

My style icon ... Sofia Coppola. She does what she loves and says what she thinks.

The shop I can't walk past ... is Browns in South Molton Street, London W1, which is heaven for clothes, and any food or kitchen shop – particularly Summerill & Bishop in Portland Road, London W11.

A book that changed me ... was 'The God of Small Things' by Arundhati Roy. I'm a twin, so it was particularly pertinent; I wept and wept. I was also deeply touched by Hemingway's 'For Whom the Bell Tolls', which made me think you have to go for things when you find them.

The last album I bought ... I've just come back from Mexico with 20 CDs to work through; and I bought Lily Allen's latest album after seeing her in concert.

The person who really makes me laugh ... is my twin brother, Dighton. He has a dry sense of humour, and is always teasing me.

It's not fashionable but I like ... Fru-Grains bars. They are amazing sticks made of nuts and fruit, which I used to have with my grandmother and rediscovered recently.

My favourite work of art is ... My sister is an amazing artist, who is constantly painting me lovely pictures.

My favourite item of clothing ... is a faded pair of hot pants, which I can just about still squeeze into; they're from my teenage years. I wear them when I'm feeling frivolous.

You wouldn't not know it but I'm very good at ... the shimmy.

You may not know it but I'm no good at ... singing.

All my money goes on ... food, presents for people and clothes.

If I have time to myself ... I love to read, daydream and listen to music. I also love to jump around, swim or play tennis.

My house ... is being built as we speak. My father has designed and is currently building my dream kitchen, which is going to be ready next month. I can't wait.

My most valuable possession ... will be my wedding ring. My boyfriend has just chosen it to match an old engagement ring belonging to his great-grandmother.

Movie heaven ... I love anything art-house, European or Chinese. I love fun, quirky movies about real people.

The best invention ever ... is the pestle and mortar. Actually, my grandfather invented the spring mattress, which in turn invented the good night's sleep. That's quite useful.

I wish I'd never worn ... a fluorescent yellow jumper to school. I never lived it down: I was called Snot for five years afterwards.

In 10 years' time, I hope to have ... a vegetable garden and lots of bambinis running around my feet.

My greatest regret ... is not being a dancer.

My life in six words ... loving nearly every minute of it ...

A life in brief

Thomasina Miers was born in Cheltenham in February 1976. A cookery writer, TV presenter and former winner of Masterchef, she is also the co-owner of the London-based Mexican restaurant chain Wahaca (see wahaca.co.uk) and lives with her fiancé in Kensal Rise, north-west London.