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Mastering Christmas

Glowing from the success of her Celebrity MasterChef victory, Kingston resident Angellica Bell serves up a special Christmas menu just for Time & Leisure.

It’s been a busy couple of years for Angellica Bell who, as well as juggling a career as TV presenter for programmes such as the BBC’s The One Show, has taken on a number of impressive challenges, including sailing around Great Britain for Comic Relief, learning to ride a bike for Tour Celeb and, in her spare time, learning to play the cello. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, she’s a mother to two young children and has just won the ultimate cooking challenge, Celebrity MasterChef.

Fortunately, Angellica is well supported by husband and fellow TV presenter Michael Underwood, himself a finalist of Celebrity MasterChef in 2012, who understands the pressures of the competition.

“I take on these challenges because I want to be pulled out of my comfort zone,” says Angellica. “I don’t want to go through life just doing the same thing and that sort of fear and adrenalin spurs me on. Sometimes it’s hard but how you feel afterwards is quite addictive – you feel so fulfilled.” Angellica is looking forward to a break when she can spend some quality time with her family after MasterChef but, fortunately, she found some time to put together a special festive menu for Time & Leisure readers.

But what about her Celebrity MasterChef experience – what were her highs and lows? “The highs were when John and Gregg would say, ‘That’s amazing’, and also when I finished on time. I set myself quite complex dishes sometimes and I didn’t know whether it would happen on the day, so when that went right, it was quite emotional.

“The lows were when things didn’t work out,” she adds. “The day I cooked for the critics was quite stressful because the chocolate desserts didn’t quite turn out how I’d planned. I’d cooked them so many times and the way they came out did not look as I’d hoped, which made my heart sink.”

As for judges Gregg and John, Angellica is effusive in her praise. “I’d never met them before,” she says, “although Michael had told me they were great, but I felt as if I already knew them because I’m a big fan of MasterChef.” She laughs as she remembers her relationship with the pair: “Whether they like me or not I don’t know, but I managed to get quite a few hugs off them. I was getting a hug whether they liked it or not!”

Christmas is a special time for the couple who are looking forward to the festive season. “These are amazing years with the children, but even before we had them, Christmas was special for us. Michael and I used to go to New York at Christmas – we got engaged there on Christmas Day and we got married on the 27th the following year, so it’s a really special time for us.”

And where are they likely to be eating out over the Christmas period? “The Canbury Arms in Kingston is an old favourite – we know the owners Michael and Charlotte. It always feels very Christmassy with its open fire so I’m sure we will be going there at some point.”

Find Angellica's recipes at www.foodandflavour.co.uk

Angellica Bell