The Ready, Steady, Chuck! Celebrity Chef Interview:

Chef Kath

Chef Kath Owing to technical difficulties, Chef Kath has been temporarily replaced by a pile of jelly babies. Please do not adjust your computer.
Chef Kath was at a clothes-swapping event when she found the time to speak to our reporter. Between changes of outfits, she explained what, for her, being a Ready, Steady, Chuck! chef really means.

Interviewer: Thank you, Chef Kath, for taking the time to talk to us. I'll try not to distract you too much while you're changing.

You've recently returned from Turkey, I understand. What was that like?

Well, as you know, I was there to speak at an international conference and to give specific advice on some of the new cheffing approaches I have been developing in the UK. It was a real privilege to have been invited to so many places to teach people about Weetabix frying and random shopping techniques. Mind you, it was a bit strange. I appreciate that I am a natural blonde and speak with a slight Scandinavian accent, but it was odd how they kept on speaking to me in Norwegian.

Right. Well, let's talk about food. What's your favourite Ready, Steady, Chuck! recipe?

I'm so used to the taste of beef and asparagus that they have lost their appeal. So it's Curry Biscuit for me. It is a shame that it's not suitable for freezing, though, otherwise I would make up a batch on Sunday for lunch. Do you think it would be better to use the chocolate vanilla vinaigrette in a salad dish, or as a nightcap?

You're well known as an international ambassador for Ready, Steady, Chuck!. What's the most important thing you think about when you're in the public eye?

It's essential to always look at your very best, otherwise people tend not to take you seriously when you're describing how to make sauces from fizzy drinks or fry Weetabix. I have just come back from Istanbul, I'm doing this clothes thing and then I'm straight into a photoshoot. People should be aware that it's very important to look good in the kitchen. You never know when you might turn up on the TV, or YouTube. What do you think about this headscarf, by the way? Do you think it makes me look attractive like that?

Er... yes. It will certainly attract attention. So what is it about Ready, Steady, Chuck! that makes you feel so good?

If you know you look good, that makes you feel good as well. And the same, but in reverse, applies to the meals you prepare. I believe that if you feel good, your meals will look good, and if they look good they will taste good too, and so far I haven't been proved completely wrong.

Do you wear any make-up when you're in the kitchen?

It's very important to get that right, of course. I do wear a little make-up sometimes, but nothing over the top. You need to look clean and it's important to be aware of kitchen hygiene. But I always wear a little perfume, wherever I am. Today I am wearing Calvin Klein, for example. I believe it is called Reduction.

How did you get interested in fusion cooking in the first place?

I'm relatively new to it, you understand, but it was a stroke of luck really. I just happened to be in Bangor during the week the 1st World Challenge took place and I was selected from over 1,000 random members of the public to be a judge. It was a tremendous honour, but not as much as my invitation to become a chef in 2006. Winning the event with The Tizer Soak was, for me, the icing on the samosa, as they say.

What's the most important thing for you to keep your kitchen stocked with?

That would have to be Weetabix. It's because of my extensive Weetabix experience that I was able to create Jamaican Scratchy Balls. Weetabix is good for you, and exceptionally versatile. You can use it as a biscuit base, garnish, crust, pie filling, or cook it on its own, fried, roast, tempura-style or in kebabs.

What's the most memorable Ready, Steady, Chuck! experience you have had?

It's true, there have been many during the Challenge, but the one that sticks in my mind is when I made a selection of party treats for some of the other chefs. The horseradish pesto and the asparagus guacamole were both marvellous, I thought. I received some great compliments from everyone though Chef Phil lost some enthusiasm when he was being ill in the garden afterwards.

Is there anything you would like to tell us about your relationship with Chef Olga?

Well, we're very close, as you know. But it's not a relationship in the sense that you think. Olga and I share so much - interests, likes and dislikes, tastes in food. We even think in the same way, though her tastes and mine do tend to differ. She's far more enthusiastic about pork than me, for example.

Do you have any hobbies?

Yes, hobbies are very important to me. When I was at school I really admired a girl I knew who collected pomegranates. She had over 150 of them in her bedroom. It had taken her a long time to collect, and I remember they were starting to smell a bit, as you would expect with fruit. So my first collection followed her example but was more practical. I collected air fresheners instead. But since becoming a chef, I have been collecting kitchen utensils. Not just the modern ones, you understand. For example, I have quite a large collection of antique fish slices, including one dating from 1643 that was used to serve fried oatcakes to Oliver Cromwell - they didn't have Weetabix in those days, you understand. Also, I own a pair of medieval melon ballers, which are particularly rare. I also enjoy needlepoint, hill walking, and noritegami, the Japanese art of crisp arranging.

Any hobbies apart from collecting things?

Yes. As well as making interesting food creations I also make my own soap. There's a lot of overlap, you see. Lots of food flavours can be put into soaps, like strawberry, coconut, cucumber or prawns. And it goes both ways. I'm thinking about what soap and bleach flavours might go with certain foods. I've also created a wonderful exfoliating soap containing Weetabix.

What would you be if you weren't a celebrity chef?

Well, I was once an accomplished violinist. I have violinist's hands, you see. I've always been very musical. But I had to give up the street dancing because of an injury sustained while moving to a standing position from the splits, although the soap helped for a while, especially with the coconut dance.

You're known to be particularly active at encouraging people to have a go at cookery. What training do you think is most important to develop the skills necessary to be a Ready, Steady, Chuck! chef?

Obviously, you learn an enormous amount simply by being forced, as an extreme chef, to be inventive and creative developing fine dishes from random ingredients. But the best course I ever went on was in mindlessness training. It takes the principles of mindfulness training, but turns them on their head. Basically, if you're going to deal with new food combinations, you need to dispense with conventional thoughts of what goes with what, what utensil to use, and traditional ways of cooking altogether. At least that's what I think.

What do you get really annoyed by?

Well, I'm very much in favour of being green these days. But our local council have recently introduced recycling in our area and it's just a real nuisance. Now I have to wash the rubbish before I throw it out, and I don't get the point of that. It's not just because of the extra waste of washing up liquid. Old newspapers are really difficult to handle when they've just come out of the dishwasher.

What future plans do you have?

I would really like to see Ready, Steady, Chuck! make the front cover of What Kitchen Utensil, or the equivalent magazines in countries around the world. I think we do some excellent work promoting kitchen utensils and making them more accessible to the public, but I don't believe we're getting full recognition for it. For example, I doubt if many people would even know what a gobi scoop was without Ready, Steady, Chuck!

Where would you rather be?

I get to travel all around the world, so for me there's no place like home. And when I'm there you'll either find me in the kitchen being adventurous with food, or curled up in bed with a good book and a big mug of hot chocolate vanilla vinaigrette.

Rightly or wrongly, you've come under a lot of recent press scrutiny because of being the only woman to win the Ready, Steady, Chuck! Challenge. How has that affected you?

Everyone involved with Ready, Steady, Chuck! is used to facing criticism all the time, so it doesn't really bother me. It's just part of the price you have to pay for being a celebrity chef. I'm very aware that certain sections of the media have made a meal out of this sort of thing, though, for example, suggesting that last year's recipe Jamaican Scratchy Balls was my way of striking a blow for feminism in a male-dominated society. Honestly, that's really not the case at all. It's just a load of balls as far as I'm concerned.

And finally: What would you most like to see on the Ready, Steady, Chuck! web pages?

One of the things that we need to give some attention to is food labelling. I appreciate the recipes are now clearly indicated as to their suitability for various types of vegetarians, for example, but I don't think this goes quite far enough. Labels for specific allergies, gluten-free and diabetic-suitable recipes, and clear warnings for Miracle Whip are essential. It would also be nice to have the more healthy options indicated, and which courses dishes should be used for, so that people can plan their meals sensibly.

Interviewer: Thank you again, Chef Kath. Very interesting. Now you really ought to go and put some clothes back on.