“Cooking just wasn’t part of my lifestyle” – Rachel Stevens on Celebrity Masterchef

Rachel has spoken with Express regarding her time on the upcoming season of the popular BBC cooking competition ‘Celebrity Masterchef’.

S Club 7 and Strictly Come Dancing star Rachel Stevens calls herself “a massive foodie”. Eating out at great restaurants and watching cookery shows, Rachel seems like a perfect match for Celebrity MasterChef.

But there is a gap in Rachel’s skill set – she isn’t much of a cook. So why sign up for the show? “I’m mad,” laughs Rachel, 39, when we catch up with her to discuss this year’s celebrity cookathon.

“I love food and I’m a massive fan of the show and never miss it. But when it comes to cooking, well, I cook basic, healthy, quick food at home.”

Rachel threw herself in at the deep end in the star-laden spin-off of the popular cookery franchise, which stars John Torode and Gregg Wallace as judges.

In next week’s second episode, Rachel will square off against Paul Daniels’ widow Debbie McGee, BBC DJ Dev Griffin, Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington and Outnumbered actor Tyger Drew-Honey. Given her lack of cooking experience, it’s understandable that Rachel felt nervous about joining the line-up.

“It was nerve-wracking, but I thought, ‘Why not go for it?’” she muses. “Everyone I know was in shock. They said, ‘You’re mad – you don’t cook!’ My mum was excited, then she called me back, saying, ‘You know they’re going to criticise you. Don’t get upset.’”

At home in London, Rachel makes healthy foods such as steamed fish and veg or plain chicken breasts for her children, Amelie, six, and three-year-old Minnie, and her husband, Alex Bourne, who runs his own real estate business. It’s nutritionally sound but about as far from haute cuisine as tinned broth is from Heston Blumenthal’s gold-leaf soup.

Rachel explains that cooking was a casualty of her early success with S Club 7, the pop group and associated TV show that catapulted her to fame in 1998. “Growing up, I didn’t cook at home,” explains Rachel. “And then from home I got into the band and we were always working or on the road. Cooking just wasn’t part of my lifestyle.”

MasterChef presented her with tough challenges, particularly the first task, in which contestants must create a dish in one hour from a random set of ingredients they’re given. Rachel was handed beef mince, pasta dough, ricotta cheese and pears. “You should have seen my face,” she sighs. “I was like a rabbit in the headlights.”

But John and Gregg, whose criticisms can make them seem forbidding, were “bonkers, but lovely,” says Rachel. “They give you advice, and when they’re not being scary for the cameras they give you a wink.”

Apart from Celebrity MasterChef, Rachel has other projects on the go, including a fashion project. “My girls are at lovely ages and I can concentrate on what I really want to do a bit more,” Rachel says.

And that includes being more adventurous in the kitchen. “I felt out of my depth at times on MasterChef, but I also surprised myself,” says Rachel. “Now I cook the odd signature dish and I’m more confident. That’s what I wanted from the show.”

Rachel will be featured in the second heat of the show, which will air Wednesday 23rd!

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