Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Cooking in the kitchen is Jenny's passion

AN encounter with the common potato turned Jenny Bristow into a television star. "Not many people can say that," chuckles the lady who is back on screen in her kitchen tonight (UTV 7.30pm).

AN encounter with the common potato turned Jenny Bristow into a television star. "Not many people can say that," chuckles the lady who is back on screen in her kitchen tonight (UTV 7.30pm).

It happened like this: the economics teacher at Cambridge House in Ballymena was given a slot on Farming Ulster talking about the various ways of cooking the good old spud.

"Imagine me lecturing Ulster folk about potatoes," Jenny says now.

But the interlude on the show for farmers must have had a certain appeal for it struck a chord with producer Ruth Johnston who was deeply impressed with this Bristow woman.

And, as a result, 12 years later, Jenny is a household name and about to launch yet another series of her famous cookery programmes which were born out of Farming Ulster and which are beamed from the converted barn at her home in Cullybackey.

The secret of Jenny Bristow Cooks Gloriously Good Food is that this woman is like all our mothers dreaming up mouth-watering gems in the kitchen," says UTV controller Alan Bremner. "She is good-humoured and endearing. Jenny and those recipes remind us of happy times at home. Ulster adores her."

And the lady with a twinkle in her eye, the wife of an engineer and the mum of three grown-up children, says: "Perhaps that's right. The series has a certain nostalgia. It is all about real home cooking. My recipes are quick and simple with a touch of sophistication and can be adapted to suit everyone's needs.

"Cooking is more simple today than it ever was and there is more variety available. The practical hints I give are all about cutting down on fat, speedy and convenient and healthy meals for people with busy lifestyles - but no corners cut.

"Cooking gloriously good food is my passion. When I'm not in my barn-kitchen, I'm simply doing nothing or out walking with the dogs. "My own favourite meal? Well, I enjoy bacon and cabbage with a few good potatoes."

Did Jenny really turn a barn into a kingsize kitchen? "Of course I did. We got rid of the hay and the farming equipment and built a kitchen most women would die for. It gives the programme director the kind of space necessary to shoot a series like this. And I prefer to work from home where I can produce the right intimate atmosphere. "And of course away from television I use the barn-kitchen for other functions connected with my food consultancy business and I am always giving talks here and doing corporate work."

There is the Jenny Bristow Cooks Glorious Good Food book too (Blackstaff Press £10.99). What self-respecting cookery series would be without one? It is in the bookshops and is also available from UTV direct at 0845 247000.

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