Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Taste: Forget Nigella - Rachel's in Town; FOOD MATTERS INTERVIEW Irish Domestic Goddess Rachel Allen Tells Andy Welch about Her Christmas Show and Shares Her Top Festive Tips

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Taste: Forget Nigella - Rachel's in Town; FOOD MATTERS INTERVIEW Irish Domestic Goddess Rachel Allen Tells Andy Welch about Her Christmas Show and Shares Her Top Festive Tips

Article excerpt

Byline: Andy Welch

MOVE over Nigella, there's a new domestic goddess in town. For a few years now, Rachel Allen has been cooking up a storm, whether on UKTV Food or the BBC (her series is shown as part of Saturday Kitchen).

Now Rachel is turning her attention to Christmas on Monday on UKTV Food, in a one-off seasonal special of her Bake series.

Listening to Rachel describe festive baked goodies is enough to get the mouth watering - gingerbread houses, cookies and other confections spring out of the oven with conveyor-belt regularity.

"I plan for quite a while in advance," the 36-year-old says. "When you've got children (Rachel's got two boys, and another in the oven, so to speak, due in January) they make sure you plan ahead because they're so excited.

"As soon as Halloween is finished, the children start on Christmas, so by November we get cracking on the gingerbread house."

But wait, what's this? Rachel hasn't even started on her Christmas cake or pudding yet? Tut tut. A true domestic goddess would have had that sorted weeks ago.

"I know, I know," she admits. "I haven't had time yet, but I'm going to do both in one afternoon this weekend."

The Christmas special of Bake follows on from the successful series of the same name, shown on UKTV Food in October.

In a change from her past programmes, which were filmed in Rachel's own family kitchen, Bake was largely shot in the world-famous Ballymaloe Cookery School.

The school, owned by Rachel's mother-in-law Darina, welcomes students from all over the world, and boasts more than 30 courses in all cuisines and styles of cooking. Rachel herself was a former student and now works there as a teacher. Despite being so immersed in the culinary world, Rachel still enjoys talking to other chefs and picking up ideas. In Christmas Bake she meets Italian food guru and friend of Jamie Oliver, Gennaro Contaldo.

"Gennaro told me all about panettone," she says. "I didn't realise it was such a big thing but every Italian house has it at Christmas. He makes a beautiful pudding using leftover cake, ricotta and chocolate, almost like a trifle. I hadn't seen anything like that before.

"That's what so great about food, you can always learn things," she continues. "I think a cook who doesn't learn something from another has a very closed mind. It's amazing how one can keep hearing about new things, seeing new things and tasting new things, no matter how much you've done before Gennaro was so inspiring."

As soon as Rachel gets back to her home in Ireland, she says she's going to start decorating the place.

Of course, with a baby due in a matter of weeks, it's important she gets a bit of rest, but she says she finds relaxing difficult. "I fly back and forth from Ireland to London a lot for my work, but I'm actually not allowed to fly after next week," she says. …

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