If you don’t know who the Hemsley + Hemsley sisters are, I can only assume you’ve been living in a wi-fi-free cave for the past two years. They are the spiralising, bone-broth-drinking, eternally perky poster girls for healthy eating. They’ve written for Vogue, have two hugely successful cookery books to their name and have recently opened a cafe in Selfridges. Now they are making their small-screen debut on Channel 4.
“We didn’t want it to be a traditional cooking show. We wanted it to have a sense of adventure,” Melissa tells us. “Hopefully you can see the reality of what we get up to which is that we love to cook but we’re not the best cooks in the world. We’re home cooks, we taught ourselves. Sometimes we forget to add certain ingredients. I really think we should release bloopers of this…”
“In some ways it was a bit like a reality TV show,” laughs Jasmine. Each episode of Eating Well with Hemsley and Hemsley is half cookery demo, half shots of the girls sourcing ingredients. It’s as sunny, wholesome and aesthetically pleasing as you’d expect. The sisters wander around an Instagram-worthy version of London, buying organic vegetables, stretching their long limbs and feasting on nutrient-rich lunches.
Their approach, they insist, is simple – “We’re going to show you how easy it is. No skills required!” – and revolves around really good quality food. “If you’ve got great ingredients you don’t need to do much to them,” says Melissa.
Theirs is a health conscious, gluten-free, sugar-free way of living, but it’s not about weight loss or deprivation. “It’s about real food. Counting calories is not a way of determining what food you should be eating,” says Jasmine. And they don’t like the term ‘clean eating.’ “I’d call it sensible eating,” she says. “Connecting with your food, knowing how to make better choices. There’s a growing collective consciousness that understands real food makes you feel really good. Food fuels you, repairs you. What you put in is going to have a massive impact on the way you think and the way you feel.”
Whether or not you’ve bought into the Hemsley + Hemsley food revolution, there’s no denying that, over the past few years, they, and other famous foodies like them, have had a huge impact on the way we eat.
“When our first book came out in 2014 we were really conscious of using ingredients we really believed in but also that people would find easy to get. I remember our publisher saying, ‘I don’t know how easy it’s going to be for everyone to find coconut oil.’ By the time our book had been out for about 6 weeks all the shops were selling coconut oil.
“I laugh when I see courgetti or cauliflower rice being sold packaged in a supermarket. It’s mental,” says Melissa. “For anyone who knows about courgetti they know they can make it at home. But at the same time, for anyone who doesn’t know about it or has never thought about it, that’s an amazing thing.”
“If the books and bookshops are selling healthy eating and making it look wonderful, the supermarkets get behind it.”
The Hemsley’s world domination is undoubtedly a family affair. Jasmine and Melissa come as a pair, with the former admitting having her sister around “definitely” helps with the nerves of filming.
Their new Channel 4 show will see appearances from their other halves too. “Our boyfriends are there in the work out episode. You can spot them because they are the ones going the wrong way when everyone else is going the right way!” laughs Melissa. And their mum, who they credit for teaching them to cook, also pops by during one episode.
“Our mum made us nervous when she came in! She wouldn’t do what we told her to do which was really embarrassing in front of all of our team,” says Melissa. “We had no authority over her! She completely disregarded everything we said. She spent ages getting her make up done, wouldn’t leave the make up chair… We did this scene where she walks in. We were trying to film her greeting us and she was like, ‘But I’ve already said hello to you.'”
The sisters say they might get together as a family to watch the first episode, but the idea of being on TV is making them “freak out.”
“I think I might squeal the whole way through. I’ll probably have a pillow over my face,” laughs Melissa, admitting she’ll be swapping their trademark Quicker Than Toast courgetti for something a little more indulgent…
“I think I’m going to have a really large glass of red wine and then watch it,” she says.
Eating Well with Hemsley and Hemsley starts on Monday at 8:00pm on Channel 4