Emma Willis InterviewCategory: Interview
Can you bake?
Well, not good enough to be in this tent I can’t, no. I kind of dabble with my kids and make cupcakes. I can do a sponge, but that’s my limit. A big sponge, whack a bit of cream and jam in it, put some icing sugar on the top to make it look pretty, but that’s the extent of my baking skills.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
My strength is that I have no expectations of myself. That could also be my weakness as well because sometimes you’ve got to have the courage of your convictions. But I struggle with that.
Do you have a go-to dish that you cook regularly?
I like to make a curry. I’m a huge fan of Indian food, I like spice, I like different flavours. So if I want to make something, I’ll do that, and try different types. Sometimes cooking the same old food, week-in, week-out can get a bit monotonous. When I do a curry, there is so much to explore, I quite enjoy doing it.
Have you ever had any culinary disasters?
Yeah, I have, practising for this the other day. I tried to make something, and it absolutely just flopped and didn’t work, it was absolutely terrible. So I’m dreading having to do it, because it was a bloody disaster.
Are you a fan of Bake Off?
Massive fan of Bake Off, yeah. I absolutely love it. All five of us watch it. It’s just perfect telly for a weeknight. The only thing is, it makes you hungry, so you watch it, it finishes, and you go to the fridge and think ‘Right, what have I got that’s sweet’. But it’s great, Paul and Prue are absolutely brilliant, and I love Noel and Matt. There’s nothing to not like about it.
You’ve presented Cooking with the Stars – were you able to pick up any dos and don’ts from that experience?
Yeah, absolutely. I picked up loads of tips, and I learned that I overcook everything. I get paranoid that nothing’s cooked, so I cook it way beyond what I’m meant to. So lots of stuff about timings of food, not overcooking things, and seasoning. Seasoning is key, and taste as you go. I’ll always just toss everything in a pan, and then taste it at the end and go “Oh, it’s not quite right”.
Are you terrified of using anything sharp, after what happened to Harry Judd?
No! Harry Judd had never picked up a knife before in his life. He’d never cooked. I don’t mind blood, so rather than recoil and being worried about it, I wanted to see what the medics were doing. He absolutely butchered his hand, poor thing. But he won the show!
Your co-presenter on that, Tom Allen, did Celebrity Bake Off last year – did you get any advice from him?
I did mention to him that I was doing it, and he just went “Oh, just enjoy it, have the best time.” And I said “I know, but I don’t want to be crap.” And he said “Yes you do, that’s part of the fun of it.” So I decided I don’t need to take it that seriously. I’m just coming for the experience and being in one of my favourite shows. Standing in that tent is really overwhelming, when you see it and walk into it, you suddenly realise how much you shouldn’t be there, because you’re not good enough. But once you get started, you sort of ease into it a little bit, so I think we’re all settling now, and I think we’re all quite excited to get back in there for the technical task.
What’s the worst thing you could be asked to make in that?
Bread, I think. Bread would be a shocker. Meringue would be pretty tricky. Some kind of pastry. All the things that are notoriously difficult. I’ve never made pastry, I’ve just bought it.
Did you do any baking during the last, rather restricted couple of years?
No, I haven’t. I probably should have, really. I’ve had lots of time at home with the kids. And if ever we do bake, they always just want the same thing – cupcakes with icing on the top. A few weeks ago, I made them lemon drizzle cake for the first time – it’s one of my favourites – and that actually went surprisingly well. I always find that the first time I make something I luck out, and then when I try and replicate it, it absolutely falls on its face. So, in answer to your question, I haven’t done much baking at all, and I wish I’d spent every week baking. And then I would feel much more comfortable being where I am today.
Are you competitive? How badly do you want to win?
Oh, not at all. I am competitive in some things, but this is not my domain. I’m just here to have fun and raise awareness, and hopefully some money for Stand Up to Cancer, and to experience one of the shows that I love watching. I absolutely am not here as someone who is an avid baker and really wants to win it. I’m just lucky I got my foot in the door, to be honest.
Why is Stand Up To Cancer important to you?
It does so much. Research is key, isn’t it? That’s something we’ve all become very aware of over the last couple of years. We didn’t have any research with Covid because it had never existed. Cancer is something that effects so many people, and the more research they can do and help they can give people, the better.
I know that Matt bakes, because I saw a certain pie that he made at home. Could you describe how it was decorated, please?
[Laughs] I think it might have had a willy on it. And the thing is, I’ve just made something that, accidentally, looks really phallic. We’re going to look like those kids at school that are constantly drawing willies on their books.