After weeks battling it out in the kitchen, Ed Balls was crowned the first winner of Celebrity Best Home Cook last night.
Like viewers, the judges Dame Mary Berry, Angela Hartnett and Chris Bavin had fallen in love with the former Labour MP’s traditional and hearty dishes, presenting him with the show’s golden spoon on the night of his win.
But despite the many highlights, which includes the spectacular birthday cake he made, Ed has revealed his least favourite moment of the series.
During one of the challenges, Ed was tasked with making a traditional roast dinner.
However, he didn’t get the response he was hoping for from judge Mary after changing his gravy recipe at the last minute.
Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com, he said: “I love cooking roast dinners. I do roast beef and roast chicken every weekend and my mum taught me to do roast dinners. I love making gravy – it’s really important, and I always make a nice, brown gravy. But we sat around the weekend before and my daughter thought Mary Berry would like a much lighter gravy, so I thought really hard on how to make my chicken gravy light and much less pungent and strong.
“It was a real effort to stop it getting that caramelisation, and then when I took it up, I had made Yorkshire puddings and roast chicken and it was all great and Angela said, ‘This is not really a gravy, it’s a sauce really!’ and then Mary said, ‘I like a darker gravy!’ I thought, after all these years, I didn’t get my gravy right. And how could I have done that? I know how to make gravy!”
The incident led to what Ed calls “Gravy Gate” as he and his family went over what he did wrong on the show.
Nevertheless, the politician managed to beat the likes of Celebs Go Dating star Tom Read Wilson and journalist Rachel Johnson and win the series – an experience he tells us was more emotional than he thought it would be.
“It turned out to be much more emotional than I was expecting, ” he said.
“I think I’ve come to appreciate how important food and cooking is in our family and, standing there, I think because we’re in the middle of lockdown, on the one hand, lots of us are spending a lot more time with immediate family and eating and cooking together is important. But then, there’s other family members who we’ve been able to see less or not at all in the last year.”
Ed’s mother Carolyn hasn’t been able to see her husband, children or grandchildren since the start of the pandemic as she has dementia and is in a care home.
Recalling the moment the judges announced he’d won the series, Ed said: “I’d cooked a lot of my mum’s recipes and I’ve not been able to see her at all since last March. She has quite bad dementia and she’s in a care home and I just thought to myself, I’ve cooked lots of her recipes and I really hoped she might see this and recognise me and thought that what she had taught me had done some good. It was emotional. It means a lot!”