| 5.9°C Belfast

Rylan Clark-Neal confident return of TV classic Ready Steady Cook is recipe for success

Ready Steady Cook is back - with a brand new set of chefs facing the clock


Right ingredients: from left, Mike Reid, Anna Haugh, Rylan Clark-Neal,
Romy Gill, Ellis Barrie and Akis Petretzikis on Ready Steady Cook

Right ingredients: from left, Mike Reid, Anna Haugh, Rylan Clark-Neal, Romy Gill, Ellis Barrie and Akis Petretzikis on Ready Steady Cook


Contestant Jean, chef Anna and host Rylan

Contestant Jean, chef Anna and host Rylan


Right ingredients: from left, Mike Reid, Anna Haugh, Rylan Clark-Neal, Romy Gill, Ellis Barrie and Akis Petretzikis on Ready Steady Cook

Are you ready? The ultimate reboot is on: Rylan Clark-Neal is hosting the newly updated version of Ready Steady Cook - the daytime telly show that sees contestants hand a random bag of ingredients to a chef and expects them to create something genuinely tasty.

Formerly hosted by Fern Britton and then Ainsley Harriott, the original incarnation ended in 2010, but now presenter and X Factor competitor Clark-Neal is working the red tomato and green pepper kitchens.

Alongside him, chefs Anna Haugh, Akis Petretzikis, Romy Gill, Ellis Barrie and Mike Reid are taking on timed challenges, which are also factoring in budget cooking, healthy eating and food waste. Here's what you need to know.

Many of the show's stars watched the original when they were growing up...

"I'm 31, so Ready Steady Cook for me was 4.30pm, just got home from school and it's on, and there's Ainsley giving it the shake. That was my childhood. I always gauged what time of day it was from Ready Steady Cook," says Clark-Neal, while Haugh says she'd never have believed it if someone had told her that, 20 years on from watching the show, she'd be on it.

The chefs were treated to some difficult ingredients to turn into meals...

Barrie raised his eyebrows at being given a pack of ready salted crisps, while Gill had to work with sumac, which was a new one for her.

"I'm asking questions that you sat at home would ask," says Clark-Neal. "What is sumac? I don't know what sumac is. But now I do."

There are times when the chefs really regret the direction they've taken with their ingredients...

"Every time!" says Petretzikis. "Why did I do that?!"

"There were genuinely times when I'm going, 'There's one-minute left, and in the green kitchen Romy is working with a pineapple, a halibut and some broccoli' - but I'm looking and the halibut is still raw on the side, wrapped in its paper, not even opened," recalls Clark-Neal. "But somehow, a peeler comes out and boom, it's sashimi!"

It's a competition, but things don't get nasty between the chefs...

"It's a competition, but there's no rivalry," says Haugh. "So, when you're coming in and competing, you're enjoying it. You're not worried that you won't be good enough."

Barrie says the time pressure means "you can't look up to see what everybody else is doing" anyway. "It's a competition, but you're literally competing against the best version of yourself," he adds.

They're hoping to factor in the contestant's personality as well as make something good to eat...

"We're trying to create dishes to match the contestants," explains Haugh. "It's not just the food that we want to cook. If somebody comes along and has something they're really excited about learning, or maybe has a special dietary need, or one of mine was a mother and she wanted something for her kids - you're really trying to think; you can't just cook what you want."

The show is really hot on recycling, sustainability and limiting plastic use...

"If we could be 100% plastic-free, we would be. Unfortunately, still in this day and age, it's very, very difficult to do that," says Clark-Neal. "But we are being sustainable; I've never worked on a show like it. I mean, I like a bottle of Evian; to try and get a bottle of Evian, it's like a drug deal. It was crazy."

"If you're not aware of stuff like that, you're going to be left behind," notes Haugh. "It was really good, same with how they recycled waste, there were colour-coded bins. You don't see loads of that being explained, because it's hardly entertaining, but it's all there."

"The produce was amazing to work with," Barrie adds, noting how a lot of the food used during filming is free-range, organic, and locally sourced. "We were hitting up small fishmongers."

There were a few disasters during filming...

According to Haugh, they really "don't stop the clock" when something goes wrong, meaning Gill had to juggle too many dishes while making paratha (buttery Indian flatbreads) and working out how to involve peanut butter. Barrie lucked out when his pastry worked, despite the fact he'd accidentally turned the oven off; and Petretzikis managed to break two ovens.

"I didn't have any food disasters!" he says with a laugh. "I just destroyed everything."

"He's so heavy handed," says Clark-Neal, who was roped in to hold the oven door shut for him "for fear of a chicken not being cooked."

Some of the dishes they come up with are truly impressive...

"The food was banging," says Barrie. "We all kept waiting just to eat all the dishes - we'd be running back on set."

"I made a black forest gateau in 20 minutes," says Haugh proudly, while Gill whipped up samosas in just 10 minutes, and Barrie says: "I made a great little Italian pavlova - that was naughty." Meanwhile, Petretzikis adds again jokily: "I broke two ovens!"

  • Ready Steady Cook airs on BBC One at 4.30pm on weekdays from next Monday and afterwards on BBC iPlayer

Belfast Telegraph