Hannah meets TV Chef Lesley Waters
22nd August 2014
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I was asked a couple of weeks ago by the lovely people at Hereford’s Old Market if we would like to get involved in their Bank Holiday Celebrations and exclusively interview TV Chef Lesley Waters. Of course this was a wonderful opportunity and it was an absolute pleasure today to be able to sit down with her with a cuppa at The Coffee Cart Company and ask a selection of questions, some of them coming from our followers on Social Media. When I first met Lesley, it was clear the enthusiasm she has for fine food, but also nice to see she was genuinely impressed with her first visit to Herefordshire and relishing the hustle and bustle of our new Old Market development. Here are the questions I asked and what she has to say:


  1. What first prompted you to go into the food industry, as it something that you always had a passion for? Yes from quite a young age I have enjoyed being around food and cooking but I believe it all stemmed from my uncles partner who was a professional chef. I remember being very inspired by him and he introduced me to food when I was around 8 years old. My sister is also a chef so I have rather a lot of connections through family and it was a real baptism by fire which I loved. By the time I was 12 I knew this as what I wanted to do. I left school at 16 and enrolled on a very practical college course where I was then awarded a scholarship which saw me working in Germany and America which was fantastic. I then came to Prue Leiths cookery school which then led to my introduction into television. I have my own Cookery school now which I love and very much believe that it is all about the people you work with who create a good experience.


  1. I am a vegetarian and often come across restaurants that don’t put a lot of thought into their meat free dishes. What would you cook for me? I have actually written two vegetarian cookbooks ‘Broader than Beans’ and ‘Cooler than Chilies’ which you should have a look at if you get chance. For a starter I would serve you Juicy White Melon on a platter with extra virgin olive oil and black pepper, topped with fresh rocket, peppers, toasted pine nuts and flakes of delicious parmesan with some crusty bread. For a main course I really love this version of a Spanish empanada which is a bit like a flat pie filled with some delicious things like Artichokes, Garlic, roasted butternut all with a lid on top and served with a lentil and balsamic dressing. Another one of my favorite vegetarian recipes though is a good double baked soufflé with spinach. If you double bake it, it’s really easy to get right and tastes lovely. I am not really a dessert person myself, although I enjoy making one. The best I have to accompany your vegetarian meal would have to be Meringue Roulade with toasted almonds and vanilla served with roasted nectarines, blackberries and raspberries and clotted cream!


  1. What would you pinpoint as your biggest all time food blunder? Has it ever all gone horribly wrong? Years ago when I was working in private catering there was an unfortunate incident when I was cooking for an important Dinner Party for a very rich lady who liked to keep me locked away in the kitchen so that she could take all of the credit herself. She wanted Watercress Soup as a starter and I sent out a lovely dish which had been beautifully strained but somehow, and I’ve no idea how it happened, a rubber band had managed to find its way into one of the bowls. When she came back into the kitchen to tell me about what had happened she was all ‘Daaaarling, there was a rubber band in the Watercress Soup!’ I apologized profusely and expected to get into lots of trouble, especially as the guests all thought she had cooked but she just said ‘Don’t worry the lady who got it is an absolute cow’. So I got off quite lightly really. There was also this one time on Ready Steady Cook when we had got right to the end, I as plating up and really pleased with my dish. I just picked up the pepper grinder to finish off when the bottom fell off just as Ainsley said just said stop cooking! My Dish was ruined.


  1. At Thebestof Hereford we love an opportunity to celebrate our city and are very proud of where we live. I just wondered what have been your first impressions of the Old Market and Hereford is it somewhere you would come again when not working? Absolutely! I was lucky enough to arrive here early yesterday and driving though to get here I was just struck by how beautiful the area is. When I arrived at the Hotel, which is lovely by the way, I felt a real urge to get out and explore. I spent 4 hours walking around the City Centre where I shopped till I dropped in the Old Market, Independent Quarter and even the 2nd hand shops like Oxfam. I also loved visiting your famous cathedral and actually feel like I have had a mini holiday here. I will have to come back with my daughter one day. It reminds me a little of our home in Dorset, a family place with lots of young people and plenty to see and do. My Hotel (The Castle Lodge) is also fabulous and cooked me a beautiful meal which I had to thank the chef for this morning!


  1. How important do you think it is to use local ingredients when cooking and do you always try to support the buy local ethos? Yes I really love using local produce and try to wherever possible. Of course there are always some occasions where this isn’t practical and I do have to use the supermarkets as well to supplement this. I am a great believer of our food becoming better in recent times though, because people are starting to get the importance of locally sourced food. I think we are heading in the right direction with that one.


  1. When people mention Hereford to you, what is the first thing you think of? This is my first visit toHereford but I suppose I would have to say the lovely Cathedral, I’ve heard lots about the cider and of course the beef. I don’t use Herefordshire Beef really in my cooking as we have lots of lovely cows inDorset, but if I was cooking up here I would definitely be using Herefordshire produce.


  1. When you aren’t cooking what is it you like to do to switch off? I like watching old movies and I also like exercising. Well actually I don’t really like exercising but I like the way it makes me feel afterward and the fact it means that I can eat!


  1. Where is your favorite place in the world that your career has taken you? Thailand and New York. Two very different places but I loved them both.Thailand just has beautiful food and it taught me so much about spices and the correct way in which they can be used, It was also good to learn about some completely different styles of cooking and I met some lovely people. New York was just buzzing, I actually worked in a restaurant there in the pot wash but was able to see some really exciting places and captured a lot of inspiration from my time there.


  1. Who is the most famous person you have cooked for? Maggie Thatcher and a famous British actor that I can’t think of the name of. He was in silence of the lambs?....Anthony Hopkins!


  1. Finally what do you think is the one ingredient no kitchen should ever be without? Other than the obvious salt and pepper, I would have to say Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or even if you wanted the British alternative Extra Virgin RapeSeed Oil. Both of them are just so versatile and I love the fruity and nutty flavors you get from a good quality bottle of either.


It was great to meet Lesley and I hope that she really enjoys her time here in Herefordshire and comes back with her daughter for another look around soon. Thanks to the PR team at Hereford Old Market for inviting us along today and I hope the rest of the weekend is a great success for you! 

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Hannah & Chris

Member since: 6th July 2012

Hannah & Chris, proud owners of thebestof Hereford

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