About me

So this is where you find out a little bit about me. My influences, my inspirations, the reason I love food to the point of distraction.

I wish I had something extraordinary to share with you at this point that could explain where my passion for cooking came from and which would make me stand apart from all the other foodies out there. We are a common breed after all. But let me give it to you straight. I wasn’t born into food aristocracy – the next generation in a long line of revolutionary and trailblazing chefs. I am just a lass from Wiltshire, who loves to cook and who really, really loves to eat.

At the beginning

Let me start from the beginning. I was born in Bristol in the late 70s, the youngest of three girls, to a half British half Maltese Mother and British Father. From a very early age my palate did not seem all that promising, favouring as I did pickled onions, cheese and marmite above all other things. My mum, an artist and great-granddaughter to the Maltese painter Giuseppe Cali, would pepper our meals with influences from her childhood; tomatoes, olive oil and fresh fish would often frequent the family table. She was also a strong advocate of nose to tail eating, so I was introduced at an early age, much to my horror, to the joys of tongue, liver, kidneys and other delights which at the time seemed more awful than offally delicious. It was from there my palate began to mature and my interest in food was ignited.

My ‘education’ in food not only came from my mother but also my culinary surrogate (or as she’s more affectionately known) Delia. I remember sitting cross-legged on the carpet in my school uniform, face sticky with bread and jam, transfixed by her cookery shows and dreaming of one day becoming just like her. Delia’s recipe books were a staple on my Christmas wish list, along with a stocking full of cheese; I never claimed to be the coolest kid to hang out with but I always had snacks. With the help of these two phenomenal women I was lucky enough to get a solid grounding in cookery basics and from there I started to build on my repertoire of skills and techniques. Now I draw inspiration from many chefs. Michael O’Hare, Tom Kerridge, Jason Atherton and Marcus Wareing to name but a few.

And now I’m here

Flash forward 30 years and I find myself slightly plumper, with a husband, two beautiful step-children, some chickens and a squinty-eyed cat living in the heart of Wiltshire. The enjoyment I get from eating and preparing good food has not waned and now I find myself working with food full time. It’s a hungry girls dream come true!

Find out more about my MasterChef journey: MasterChef 2016

Juanita Hennessey 2016 MasterChef Finalist - standing next to her cook books“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
‘I don’t much care where -‘ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.
‘- so long as I get somewhere,’ Alice added as an explanation.
‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.”

― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland