Lorraine Pascale has become my new cooking hero.
The star of BBC2’s Fast, Fresh and Easy Food should be the kind of female chef every woman not-so-secretly despises.
She entices us to make fattening cakes, biscuits and treats but looks like she survives on not much more than a few sticks of celery and a handful of brown rice a week.
To add to that she comes across as a bit of a feeder. We’ve all got a skinny mate who shoves the Hob Nobs our way while sanctimoniously passing on the good stuff due to ‘too much fruit salad at lunch’. Well, Lorraine’s quick to rustle up something tasty but I can count the amount of times I’ve seen her actually eat on camera using just the podgy fingers on one hand.
And she’s an ex-model and a self-made success story with a kilowatt smile that could stop traffic.
In short, everything that brings out that nasty bitchy streak found lurking in most women, even those who like to pretend they could give Mother Teresa a damn good run for her money.
But at this time of year, when the autumn TV schedule calls for a new raft of cooking programmes designed to bulk us up in preparation for a long, hard, winter, Lorraine’s a bit of a breath of fresh air.
Her programme used to bring me out in hives and she’s still guilty of pretending that cooking is easy-peasy when in actual fact it’s not.
And yet there’s something wholesome and honest about her show that makes it as comforting as a mug of tea on a bad day.
Compare Lorraine’s work to the latest series of Celebrity Masterchef and you’ll see what I mean. This year’s hopefuls can barely muster any culinary skills between them. The producers have picked people on the basis that they’re well-known alone – and some of them aren’t even that.
At least with Lorraine, you know you’ll pick up some tips and a dash of enthusiasm, as you convince yourself you too can replicate that tricky-looking marble-effect cake at home (PS, you can’t).
Plus she’s the only cook on telly brave enough to wear a pristine white T-shirt and no pinny.