Week 12..in which I learn skills from a chef

This week I took part in Jamie Oliver’s CEO CookOff. One of 50 UK CEO’s cooking with 30 famous chefs to feed 600 everyday heroes – dinner ladies, nurses, teachers – raising money for Jamies Food Foundation and UKHarvest. It was fabulous – where else would you get the Duchess on Cornwall and Dynamo on the same stage…or get a hug from this guy!


I was paired with the chef Jose Pizarro. And seriously lucked out. He had me at Hello. He greeted me like a long lost friend with a bear hug (actually,that was probably me) and a smacker on the lips (definitely him). That’s him right behind us.


Within minutes I felt like I’d known him half my life. 4 hours later we were practically related. And he has the most gorgeous head chef I’ve ever met.


Really distracting when you’re trying to impress with your knife skills! The bit when he caught me eating the brandy soaked sultanas was not my finest moment.

But I learnt SKILLS!

I cooked this


and this



Which was actually a little stressful with 15 hungry dinner ladies waiting to eat my efforts. I pretended I was on MasterChef – easy to do when you’re surrounded by photographers and 4 film crews.

And Jose taught me how to make the BEST vinaigrette ever…one part runny honey, one part sherry vinegar and 2 parts olive oil with a dollop of English mustard. Amazing.

First week on 5:2. I chose 2 consecutive days whilst hosting a ‘boot camp’ for 100 under 32 years olds.

I figured that being trapped in a theatre for 8 hours a day, 4 floors up from the nearest food, would make it easy. And against all expectations (and constant self negotiation ‘maybe I could do this tomorrow, or the next day, or next month’) it was.

Here’s what I ate;

Day One – Banana, carrot juice, bowl of oat granola, and a 300 calorie ready meal from Tesco. Not the most interesting of food days. I was still jet lagged so couldn’t be bother to cook from scratch. Also I was staying in an Airbnb and couldn’t work out how to use the cooker so decided I couldn’t go wrong with the microwave.

Day Two – Small packet of almonds, banana, red cabbage couscous salad (surprisingly palatable)  and courgette spaghetti with puttanesca sauce. I’m new to courgette spaghetti. Total revelation!

The train journey home was a challenge. Honestly, I WAS STARVING! In my head I rugby tackled the on board chef to get the last cheese and ham toasty, but in reality I managed to sit on my hands for the entire journey repeating ‘I will not be beaten’ under my breathe until I arrived at my station.

Outcome – I lost 2lbs.

P.s – I bumped into Una Stubbs on a street in London. Literally. She’s tiny. I’m not. I nearly killed her.

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