Best Home Cook is back. The eight-part series returns with a new lease of life: brand new kitchens, tougher challenges and an exciting and tense finale each week.
There’s also a new addition to the judging line-up, with Michelin-starred chef Angela Hartnett joining the 'queen of home cooking' Mary Berry and fruit and veg expert Chris Bavin.
Hosted with wit and warmth by Claudia Winkleman, ten talented home cooks embark on the ultimate immersive cooking competition, living together in a shared house and competing against each other, while the trio of judges put their cooking prowess to the test.
But before the competition begins, the judges Mary Berry, Angela Hartnett, Chris Bavin and host Claudia Winkelman discuss what’s in store for the new series, and what they believe makes a great home cook.
Pictured: Chris Bavin, Mary Berry, Claudia Winkleman and Angela Hartnett
Hi Claudia. What do you think Angela has brought to the table as a new judge? Angela is completely brilliant. She is such an amazing addition, we’re all in love with her. The contestants really tried to make her happy and we all get on brilliantly.
Can you tell us what is new about this series? What are you most excited for viewers to see? We’ve had a fiddle with the rounds. Mary is always in charge of the first - the Ultimate. This is where the cooks can really practice and make something delicious. Chris then heads up the Rustle Up challenge, where he gives our cooks an ingredient and not a lot of time to come up with a dish. It really is a straightforward ingredient, something lots of us have at home - think baked beans rather than dragonfruit. And then anyone who didn’t completely impress the judges had to take part in the [dramatic voice] Eliminator, and they have to follow a recipe that Angela has picked. I try to look after them but bark time calls a little too much…
What do you think makes a great home cook? I think a great home cook is someone who loves feeding family and friends. Whether they make a great roast, a great fish pie, a sumptuous curry. The contestants are all the type of people who make just really tasty delicious food. Not fancy, but off the charts tasty. A great home cook is also someone who opens their fridge and manages to create something really delicious from leftovers and quite humble ingredients.
What was your favourite home cooked meal growing up? My mum makes the greatest quiche on the planet and my dad’s pasta sauce still blows my mind. Big bowl of pasta or a cheese and onion quiche then.
Hello Mary. What do you think makes a great home cook? A good home cook will cook with love and passion, and have an understanding of, and a flair for, flavours.
Tell us about The Ultimate Challenge - what is it, how do you come up with each challenge, what are the main skills, what will impress you the most? In The Ultimate, I want to see the type of food they cook for their friends and family for special occasions. I give them quite a narrow brief and it’s so exciting to see how they interpret that. I have chosen classic, well-loved family dishes that all the viewers will be able to relate to.
What do you want to see in the series that will really impress you? And what do you not want to see? I want to see our contestants joy of cooking and enthusiasm giving the best results. I do not want to see disorganised preparation and panic when things don’t go right - an organised cook works in a tidy kitchen.
What has Angela brought to the table as a new judge? Angela has brought her skill, expertise and extensive knowledge - but best of all her humour, which relaxes all of us. Cooking should be fun! She is a joy to work with.
What else is new about this series? What are you most excited for viewers to see? The set is fabulous! It means that we can move about more, go into different room, make a cup of coffee and chat between us. The set is every cook's dream and the design is bang on trend!
What was your favourite home-cooked meal growing up? My mother was the cook in the family, and the family roast of shoulder of lamb and fresh mint sauce with new potatoes, home-grown seasonal vegetables and bread and butter pudding was paramount to family life.
Hello Chris. What do you think makes a great home cook? I think a great home cook should be adaptable but also passionate. I have always said if you care about the food you cook, it will taste nicer. I appreciate cooking for your family can feel like a job at times, but you have to do it so you might as well enjoy it!
Tell us about The Rustle Up Challenge. What is it, how do you come up with each challenge, what are the main skills, what will impress you the most? I love the Rustle Up challenge, as it is what home cooks have to do on a daily basis. You have to be inventive and adaptable. Often we have to use something up or substitute an ingredient... or open the fridge and magically create something delicious out of very little! What impressed me in this challenge is seeing a simple ingredient transformed into something quite special.
What do you want to see in the series that will really impress you? And what do you not want to see? I want to see some resilience; not everything will work but I’d like our cooks to be able to compose themselves, dust themselves off and keep going.
What has Angela brought to the table as a new judge? Angela has brought so much to the table as a new judge. She is someone I respect enormously, she is at the very top of her game and a lovely supportive kind person too!
What else is new about this series? What are you most excited for viewers to see? There are many brilliant additions to series two, which we've made whilst keeping all the brilliant bits of series one! There are a few twists this year that I can’t wait for people to see.
What was your favourite home cooked meal growing up? I think I have a few! Sunday roast was always delicious but I also loved bangers and mash... and still do.
What made you want to join the judging panel for this series? Mary Berry! The fact that I’d get to work with her, who wouldn’t want to do that?
Tell us about The Eliminator Challenge - what is it, how do you come up with each challenge, what are the main skills, what will impress you the most? It’s the decider round and determines who has to leave. As it gets further into the competition the cooks get better and better and it becomes harder for them and us. I look for skill, taste and the ability to plan. We give them a recipe but that’s it - the rest is up to them.
What do you want to see in the series that will really impress you? And what do you not want to see? I want to see a home cook who makes delicious, tasty food, something that sets them apart. It’s great to see creativity and confidence, but simplicity shouldn’t be overlooked - sometimes the best dishes are the ones that are simple, yet brilliantly executed.
What do you think makes a great home cook? It’s as much about the enjoyment and passion as it is about the final product. A great cook can take simple ingredients and turn them into something delicious.
What was your favourite home-cooked meal growing up? Everything. I was very lucky to have had an array of people around me who cooked brilliantly. I learned a lot from them.