When Gregg Wallace isn’t presenting MasterChef with John Torode, or Eat Well For Less, you’ll find him at home with his Italian wife Anna and their baby son Sid – or, quite often, in Italy, eating bowls of orecchiette, or learning dishes from his mother and father-in-law.
Last year, the 55-year-old co-wrote Gregg’s Italian Family Cookbook with Anna. So, we caught up with the former greengrocer to chat all things food, ahead of the new series of MasterChef starting on February 24 on BBC Two.
What would be your death row meal?
“A plate of oysters, followed by vitello tonnato – slices of veal with a tuna sauce – and my wife’s coffee pannacota.”
Is there anything you still can’t cook?
“Cooking and resting big joints of lamb, my timing is off, I really need the help of my wife and mother-in-law there. I tend to overcook it. I had to phone Marcus Wareing the last time I cooked one and said, ‘Marcus, look, I weighed this lamb, how much do you think?’ And he said, ‘Wallace, am I here just to help you with your Sunday roast? For crying out loud, I’m a busy man’.”
What do you like to cook with Anna?
“We cook pizzas, we make fresh pasta, I love to make crespelli – pancakes which you layer up and fill full of savoury things like cheese, anchovies, truffle and ham. We found a butcher in a little town in Italy and brought back ribs of beef – we cooked those for hours and hours with loads of vegetables and they just fell off the bone.”
Do you have a favourite store-cupboard essential?
“Eggs. You can’t make pasta without them. You need eggs.”
What’s the kitchen utensil you can’t live without?
“An electric knife sharpener. As much as John Torode’s shown me, I still don’t know how to use a chef’s steel. I just blunt my knives, I don’t know how to do it, I need an electric knife sharpener.”
Favourite late-night snack?
“Cheese. Formaggio. A great big lump of Cheddar or a piece of Stilton, or a French Roquefort, or Gorgonzola.”
Diet or full fat?
How do you like your eggs?
Favourite childhood dinner?
“Butterscotch Angel Delight.”
Anything you still can’t stomach?
“There was never anything I couldn’t stomach.”
What did you have for dinner last night?
“I had dinner cooked for me by Simon Wood. Who’s the winner of MasterChef . I had a beautiful four-course dinner. We were hosting a party, he cooked, I hosted it. We had sea bass, lamb, asparagus, a lemon posset and braised beef – it was superb.”
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