The last series of John and Lisa’s Weekend Kitchen, which aired in the summer, was the most successful yet, peaking at over 1 million viewers each episode. And why wouldn’t it be a hit? The ITV show sees much-loved married couple – professional chef John Torode, 55, and talented home cook Lisa Faulkner, 48 – rustling up hearty, healthy family food together.
And now the Australian Masterchef judge and London-born actress, who met when Faulkner won Celebrity Masterchef in 2010 and started dating a couple of years later, are back presenting 10 brand new episodes.
In the wintery weeks ahead, viewers can expect inspiration for comforting desserts, new versions of family classics and easy snack ideas. There’s also going to be three Christmas-themed episodes airing in December, featuring recipes such as a Christmas dinner tray bake.
As the pair, who have five children between them, approach their second Christmas together as husband and wife, we catch up with Faulkner, who’s known for her roles in EastEnders and Holby City.
What meal do your family always ask you to cook?
One of them is lasagne and the other thing is a roast dinner. Whatever roast dinner I make has to have Yorkshires and roast potatoes. John would say his favourite thing that I make are my roast potatoes, I expect. He really loves them.
So, what’s the secret to your roast potatoes?
There are lots of different things but if I’m not putting them round chicken or meat then I just put a chicken stock cube in with the oil. Then they taste all stock-y really, and lovely. It’s good for Yorkshire puddings as well.
It feels more important than ever, what with lockdown, to be having family meals together, doesn’t it?
Even our teenagers, who are not particularly happy about it, have come to terms with it. We’ve all been a bit kinder, a bit more patient and tried to make a bit more of an effort. And so things like eating together have become a really lovely thing.
What’s the trickiest recipe you attempted for this series of John and Lisa’s Weekend Kitchen?
Most of our food is, on purpose, not very tricky. We want people to feel that it’s something everyone can do. For Christmas, we do a really lovely black forest gateau roulade, which is absolutely gorgeous. The only tricky bit is rolling it up as it can crack. But it’s a really lovely recipe. Anything that’s chocolate and cherries is a winner with me.
Is there one food or meal you can never get right?
Thai curries and things that John makes all the time. I still will phone him and say: ‘So I’ve got everything in the pan and I’m just cooking it and I’ve just taken the top off the coconut cream – now what do I do?’ And he’s like: ‘You’ve done this a million times, you can do this!’ But I just have a block about it. Even though I make them a lot!
There must be things you’ve taught John while together in the kitchen too…
We have a thing about jacket potatoes because I think they’re a dinner – as everyone does, because they are – but he thinks they’re a side, like to have with something. So I’m teaching him the art of a jacket potato.
If you and John have an argument, will he cook for you to make up for it?
He cooks for everything. In fact, my daughter [Billie, 14, who she adopted with her first husband Chris Coghill] was saying the other day: ‘You both really show your love through food, don’t you?’
She was like: ‘I don’t really care sometimes what I eat’. She’s been at her dad’s or whatever and it’s like: ‘What do you want for dinner?’ She’ll say, ‘Anything’, and we’ll say, ‘No, think’. She will come up with something that she wants and she’ll get it. And all our kids [John shares Lulu and Jonah with his ex-wife Jessica and also has two grown-up sons from a previous relationship], it’s the same. We like cooking for them so I suppose, in a way, we cook all the time to show our love or say sorry or whatever.
It’s a difficult time for everyone’s mental health right now. Do you find cooking helps you?
Totally. I think it’s really difficult for absolutely everybody. I don’t know anyone who’s walking around dancing through the fields thinking, ‘Yay, lockdown again!’ It’s been really, really tough and I find that the only thing that gets me through is cooking. My jeans hurt, actually; I hate wearing them because I think I’ve just been so used to not wearing them. I feel like I’ve just really enjoyed cooking and washing up and all the simple things.
Are you finding it difficult to eat healthy in lockdown?
I just think life’s too short. And I’m like: ‘Yeah ok, I’ll have a piece of chocolate’, ‘OK I’ll make a cake’. I’m trying to eat healthier. I’m trying not to drink huge amounts of alcohol or anything. We’ve got to be as healthy as possible. But we don’t eat really unhealthily anyway, and I think the odd treat – god, what would I do without it?
What’s your favourite Christmas treat?
The fact we will have tins or boxes of Cadbury Roses. Usually it’s great because I can eat all of the strawberry creams, except my daughter has discovered them and now she fights me for them. So I have to go squirrel them away before anyone gets them!
Watch John and Lisa’s Weekend Kitchen every Saturday on ITV.
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