Debra Stephenson Interview

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“To have hints, tips and lessons from Marco Pierre White. It’s like winning a prize. You can’t buy this. So many women would jump at the chance.”


Actress Debra Stephenson, 37, believes that cooking for the man in your life can keep romance alive.


“If you love someone, you cook for them. It’s a way of giving. My husband James likes to cook some really lovely dishes for me. And he loves lasagne, so I love to give him that.  But also if you’ve got children, cooking brings out the nurturing qualities in you. I am not someone who just wants to slam down something rubbish in front of my kids. For me, food is love.


“So to have hints and tips and even lessons, really, from Marco Pierre White is like a prize. You can’t buy this can you? I think a lot of women and fellas as well, who love to cook would jump at the chance.


Huge fans of Debra’s home-cooking are her son Max, 7, and daughter Zoe, 3.


“I always think of myself as a cook, because I cook at home. But suddenly it’s very humbling meeting Marco.  I am actually going to get rid of any pre-conceived ideas about cooking, about whether I can cook, listen to him and just start from scratch.”


“When I said why I was coming on the show, Max said, ‘But mummy, you are already a brilliant cook,’ which is what counts. But then I’ve never cooked three different meals for 25 people before.


“Plus all the dishes I normally do, like shepherd’s pies and casseroles are in the oven. In Marco’s Kitchen Burnout we are not allowed to use the oven, which rules out most of the things I can cook!”


Meeting Marco for the first time, Debra wasn’t sure what to expect.


“Most chefs are quite powerful people. They’ve had to command a great deal of respect, otherwise people don’t follow their orders. Whoever runs a brilliant kitchen is not going to be a pushover. So my expectations were that he would be quite menacing. Also, after Hell’s Kitchen, lots of women had a crush on him.


“He seems to have this kind of aura around him and energy that gets people falling at his feet. But I like to take people as I find them and start with a clean slate.


“Rather than intimidating, I think he is just intense. I think there is a great warmth about him, something of the daddy about him. He commands respect, but at the same time, he would be there for you.


 “There is no point in going into a competition like this unless you are prepared to go along with the drama of it. Marco will only shout in order to help us. So if he does I am not going to take anything personally.”


Even before she competes in the first round, Debra has already learned an important lesson from her mentor.


“Marco has already said that we have to take the emotion away from our cooking and focus. Because once you bring in emotion, you get confused. So as my strategy for doing well, I want to stay focused, logical and rational.  We’ll see how it goes.  It would be amazing to win. I’ve never won anything.


“Part of me really wants to do well and stay in for as long as possible to learn more.


She has already befriended her fellow competitors Nancy Dell’Olio and Jason Byrne.


“Nancy is lovely. I think she is probably quite good because being Italian she will have learned a lot of good tips from her mother. I reckon she eats out a lot and knows good food.


“In the past, I’ve not been good under pressure. My brain stops working, I can’t think what I need to do next, and forget about something that may be on the stove. So Jason, being a comedian will lighten the atmosphere is we all start to take it a bit seriously.”


Her main challenge will be cooking for 25 diners.


“Later this year I’ve got 12 friends and 10 children staying at my house in Dorset, which is a huge number to cook for.


“After doing this show, I don’t think I’m going to find that scary at all.”







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