Masterchef’s gastronomic guru on commuting by bike, how New Year’s Eve caused a cooking disaster and what’s so great about living in London
I grew up in Australia so was always cycling. I remember my dad said I couldn’t have a bike until I was 10, but I think I managed to get one when I was nine.
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I began commuting by bike when I was 20 or 21. In 1990 I came to London. I’m not a fan of public transport but I used to work in South Kensington and lived in Camden so would cycle. I eat for a living so cycling keeps me trim.
There’s something nice about fresh air. I like the challenge and freedom of cycling. As an Aussie, you deal with the seasons and I don’t mind getting wet. I’d rather be wet and able to dry my stuff, than be stuck on the Tube. I like to be outside.
I’m not a gym fan. When you get to my age you do get a bit of middle age spread. You get a bit old, fat and chubby. I don’t like the gym I’d rather be on the move doing something practical.
I did the London to Brighton ride and am training for the London Ride 100 this August. The challenge is trying to learn to eat and ride. I’ve been asked to do the Etape and Marmotte sportives next year. If I can do both of those I’ll be very happy.
My grandmother was a very good cook. I think she gave me the taste for food. I lived with her for many years after my mother died. From the age of six through to 10, I didn’t discover sport; I discovered food.
The biggest cooking disaster we had happened in 1992. We opened Quaglino’s on New Year’s Eve and there were 350 people in the restaurant. There were loads of people eating and they set off balloons at midnight, filled with tin foil and sparkly stars. It fell in their food and we had to re-cook. We finished at 4am.
I would never be a contestant on Masterchef. I’m not that crazy. I might consider dancing [on a reality show]. At the moment I don’t have the time.
If I were to travel I would love to go back to Thailand. I think it’s an amazing country. The food, the culture, the noise, the banter, the cacophony of it all – I love it.
I moved to London over 20 years ago. There’s a huge amount of people, it’s ever-changing, the population is exciting, it’s one of those great cities isn’t it? And it’s not far from anything. You jump on a plane and you’re in Paris or Spain.
Celebrity Masterchef starts Wednesday July 31, 8pm on BBC One.
This article was first published in the July 25 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!