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Food Homepage Slider Life & Loves — 07 February 2013

You may remember that a few weeks ago I found myself in the final of a cookery competition – well, I didn’t ‘find’ myself in either the ‘lost’ or ‘profound’ way but one of the things I did do is discover a bit about the host and judge Rosemary Shrager…

Meeting Rosemary Shrager, mummy rates it

Rosemary is a self-taught chef who runs her own eponymous cookery schools. A the time of the final she had just announced that she was opening up a new school ‘down south’ in Royal Tunbridge Wells – a move that she is very excited about as it combines her love of teaching with her wish to spend more time with her family. You see, despite the success of her schools, the show Ladette to Lady, her TV appearances on I’m A Celeb, This Morning and the Alan Titchmarsh show she is, at the end of the day, a very down-to-earth lady, Mum and Gran who’s also a darn good cook!

Rosemary’s early years involved learning to cook the hard (and crispy) way. In fact, maybe it was Rosemary’s Mum who had to learn the hard way as the budding chef burnt down their kitchen. That didn’t deter Rosemary who continued to show a passion for cooking (with a slight detour into the world of architecture) as she cut her teeth alongside Jean Christophe Novelli and Pierre Koffman.

Being a self-taught cook has made Rosemary work even harder to perfect her cooking. A rifle through the recipes in Rosemary Shrager’s School for Cooks show real attention to detail and appreciation for adding those extra touches. Between us bloggers we asked Rosemary where a wanna-be chef should start. ‘Vegetables’ she told us quite decidedly. ‘Learn how to deal with everyday vegetables and then move onto something more exciting. I really like Salsify,’ she continued. ‘It’s a root vegetable, a bit like celeriac or parsnip and cooked in milk.’ Baby artichokes, cabbage and even Brocoli stalks got a mention – the latter of which is used in a stir fry or a salad. Rosemary’s other starting out tip was ‘to buy good pans’ and, importantly, ‘to only use them on a medium heat.’
Rosemary Shrager (centre) with l-r: Filipa, Michelle, Donna and Emma
Surprisingly, for someone who prepares quite fancy looking food, she is an advocate of keeping things simple when it comes to dinner parties. ‘People are more important’ she raved. ‘Pre-prepare something like a Coq-au-Vin and be chefy in advance. Then just dress it up a little to make it look special with some croutons or garnish. Or, even better, get it ready way in advance and put it in the freezer.’

Rosemary lost an impressive 2 stone 3lbs in the jungle – the most achieved by any resident of Ant and Dec’s show. This weight loss has spurred her to take a more active interest in health. For example, she agrees with a Filipa’s suggestion about cookery classes for parents. ‘Oh yes’ says Rosemary ‘a healthy diet is incredibly important. Despite what people may think I have always eaten healthily’ she says ‘and I maintain that eating three meals a day is key’. In fact, she’s so determined to carry on her healthy ways that she’s made a pact with Jungle co-star David Haye to team up and start a boxing health kick this month. Now that’s a show I want to see!

*Click here for more information about Rosemary’s Books and her new Cookery School.

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