Theo, Lisa and Wayne

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 24 September 2014

I now have the use of my limbs. After six days of eating, drinking and making merry my body felt like it had been under Paul Hollywood's rolling pin.

Shooting THE TWELVE CHEFS OF CHRISTMAS, otherwise known as the 12 COCS, was both exhilarating and exhausting.

Last Sunday Joe drove up from Winchester to collect me from East Sussex only to turn round and drive back down to Winchester again. He arrived a little early, I was still in my pj's and B was wearing her white bathrobe.

I guided Joe, on the telephone to our door, made him a cuppa whilst I slipped on my dungarees and a boob tube - nowt else was necessary as I was going to be in and out of costume all week.

My clothes and away-day clutter were loaded into the boot, a tickle of the cats, a smooch of the dawter and we left as the light was fading. We arrived in Winchester at. 6.45 after an eventless drive, a bit of chat and a whisper of shut-eye.

Joe booked me into the Hotel Du Vin. I had a lovely garden room, with a name that escapes me. A big bed, a mini bar, a lavish wet room with a shower head like an overblown sunflower, Miller Harris products, a sea of white towels, a television and a friendly little armchair.

I unpacked and went into the dining room for supper.

Let me state now I did not see any of Winchester at all. A tiny peek out of the window on the drive to the studio, but in the main I saw the inside of my bedroom, the inside of my head and the inside of my mini bar.

First night meet with two women from the production company and I started my stay with a bowl of peas, some potatoes with chorizo bits, and a good deal of water. Winchester, in the HDV, was a bit like sitting in the middle of the 'Midwich Cuckoo's'. A family of five children, ALL with platinum blonde hair and British blue eyes, sat inter-weaved with their Daily Mailoid parents, even an attractive granny was thrown in. I calculated their meal must have cost - give or take the hiring of a high chair - as much, if not more than my garden room.

I retired to bed having organised a 7.00 o'clock alarm call.

The alarm call came bang on 7.00. I stepped out of my lavish bed, walked 10 paces into the wet room then stood under the shower until my eyes opened. I put in my new new lenses. Honestly left eye for distance right eye for reading I swear it's a bloomin' miracle, me spectacles were confined to their case.

The crew were so, so wonderful. From Mel the floor manager to Chris, Neil, and Dom the camera operators, Matt the soundman, to Sammy Jo and her team of cookers extraordinaire. Sofia , Jake, and Anna who made tea, ran for water and knew everything they needed to know about the dishes, whilst Emma and Sister E, plus the rest of the team in the gallery, pushed buttons. Cuckoo, the vision mixer, demanded his very own nickname. He got one. As did everybody else.

After being away for 7 years there were tears from me and NC one of the big knobs, when we both realised that we had all just fallen back into our places.

My makeup artist, Kathy, was the cherry on the cake. She really did turn this sows ear into a rather lovely silk purse. Although radio and 7 years of sitting on my derriere has taken its toll. I still looked presentable but the signs of age were there. Kathy filled the cracks as best she could. In HD? Well who knows?

Numero Uno Programmo featured Mr.Theo Randall a superlative chef. He kicked the week off with an Italian Christmas.

Primo course: Ravioli with Ricotta, Fennel Tops and Walnut Sauce. A dish so simple and compelling I've vowed to make it for my framily this year.

Secondo course: Roast Red Partridge with Savoy Cabbage and Pancetta. A bird a piece and I'm salivating just thinking about it.

Numero 3, Pud. Theo served up créma di mascarpone with raspberries and almond croquante. Okay so it sounds dead poncy but believe me it was a dollop of this a sprinkle of that and a crunch of brittle almons. Excellente....

With a roundof applause we were all done and dusted with castor sugar

The crew filmed pack shots - all that lovely grub for you to look at. And I was ready for my bed. But 21st Century telly works you harder than that.

With one show down it was a quick break and onto show-stopper number two.

Lisa Faulkner was just a little too good looking for my liking, whipped up Coconut Ice Squares, which sat on a little table outside the studio until they were all devoured.

Christmas Biscuits, which Chris the cameraman promised to make with his children to hang from their Christmas tree.

Then Lisa's créme de la créme simple but meltingly delicious Prawn Saganaki Pies. Prawns underneath buttery puff pastry cooked in little enamel dishes.

Believe it or not I managed to find room in my belly for my own individual Saganaki sensation, w hich were not Japanese but typically Greek.

I was prostrate in the back of the taxi as a beautiful Pakistani driver with blue eyes drove me back to the HDV. He talked politics whilst I snoozed.

Out with the lenses, into the bar to drink with Mr. Wayne Collins, who had provided unctuous Christmas Eve drinks throughout the show. Now the mixologist from Camden was slurping a beer whilst I drunk the bar dry with soda water and huge wedges of lime.

BTW if you want any of the recipes just go to the

Make up off, pillows puffed and day one was out of the way.

I slept easy. Oh Yes I did.

The week had started sweetly.

But was it to continue......

Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes


1. At October 1, 2014 10:21 AM Jane Parkinson wrote:

So happy to meet you on the 12 COCS shoot a couple of weeks ago and share a LOT of laughs on our day filming together.

If you ever need me to selflessly stuff my face full of delicious dessert again on your behalf please let me know!

As promised, here's my email address. Stay in touch please, gorgeous lady.


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