Michelle Ackerley on her Celebrity MasterChef appearance
- Credit: BBC/Shine TV Ltd
Alderley Edge-based TV presenter Michelle Ackerley proves she’s hot property as she heads to the Celebrity MasterChef
TV presenter Michelle Ackerley has been busy in the kitchen...but not the one in her own Alderley Edge home. She's signed up for the latest Celebrity MasterChef competition on BBC 1 and admits she's completely out of her comfort zone.
We speak before the show is broadcast, hence I am not privy to whether Michelle has made it through the heats and is now preparing to pick up the MasterChef crown but (spoiler alert!) from what I'm hearing her chances look slim.
'I'm not a great cook,' confesses Michelle, a One Show regular and recent presenter on the BBC's Crimewatch Roadshow.
'I spend so much time away from home on location that when I get to my fridge it's normally bare. It's late at night and I think "I'll just put a pizza in the oven". I'll go and unpack my stuff and by the time I get back to the oven the pizza's burnt.
'For me my cooking experience is basically anything that can be done quickly. It's not that I don't like cooking because I do. It's actually quite a therapeutic thing to do but because I don't do it very often I get very nervous, especially when I'm cooking for other people.'
Hmmm. I'm beginning to think that not only cooking in front of an audience, but also being judged by Celebrity MasterChef presenters John Torode and Gregg Wallace wouldn't be the most relaxing experience for the former Alderley Edge School pupil.
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'At the start they ask you what your dish of choice would be and I really had to think. I thought it could be anything!' says Michelle.
'Also, I was really nervous about the mystery box, which is the very first thing you do on MasterChef. They give you a load of ingredients and you have to rustle something up. Now for me "rustling something up" is almost completely alien. I mean, I love a well-stocked fridge and would really like to be one of those people who can make something on the spot when friends come round, but I can't.
'What happens in reality is I go out and buy ingredients for a meal but the next day I'm on the road again and all those items are going off in my fridge.'
On the show Michelle finds herself up against ex rugby player Martin Bayfield, Carol Decker of T'Pau fame, actor Keith Allen, (Lily Allen's dad) and Josh Cuthbert from Union J, who she says were all very different.
'Everyone had different backgrounds and ways into cooking,' she explains. 'I'm guessing that's why the team is all together - it's what would make an interesting show, a mix of abilities I would say.'
She also found the show's two lynchpins, John and Gregg, great to work with and very encouraging.
'They're brilliant. They're not Simon Cowell types who shout you down but they are professionals and want good food at the end of the day, 'explains Michelle.
'As soon as you get in there they say "Don't be nervous. All we want is good food cooked well." They make it sound dead simple, but I'm thinking "Yeah. good food cooked well. Can I actually do that?" 'If you watch the programme you'll see that while you're cooking they're walking around making comments to the camera so you've always got one ear on what they're saying. For me it's like an exam and all I'm thinking is OMG OMG.
'There is something terrifying about taking that plate of food and putting it there. There's that pregnant pause where they're just looking at it. Then, they take the fork to the dish and start chewing it, chewing it and chewing it again before they say something. At that point your heart is in your mouth and all you're thinking is "I really hope I haven't poisoned them."'
Whether Michelle gets close to the Celebrity MasterChef crown, well, we will have to wait and see but it won't be long before she's back on the TV.
After appearing daily on the BBC's recent Crimewatch Roadshow - which among other things involved working with mountain rescue teams as they hoisted people to safety and with a riot police training squad, being petrol-bombed and having bricks thrown at her - she's heading to the coast as the new presenter of Fantasy Homes by the Sea.
'It's 20 hour-long programmes and involves travelling around the country looking at properties for people who would like to invest in a home by the sea,' she explains.
'There's also a Millionaire Moment where I go to a really expensive property at that location and see what you can actually get for your money. 'For me it's the dream job. Everyone loves snooping around people's houses.'
One of the things that Michelle has learned from her MasterChef experience is to be confident in the kitchen.
'You are getting the opportunity to learn new skills. We filmed in a restaurant - a proper kitchen with professional chefs - and they taught me some techniques so the whole experience was fantastic,' she enthuses. 'What I learned for myself is that it's a confidence thing.'