Ready Steady Cook is back: Who is the presenter? Who are the chefs? Why is it back after a 10 year hiatus?

It’s been off our screens for 10 years, but the classic BBC cookery show returns this year with a new look, eco credentials and a familiar face as the host.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 8 March 2020 - 10.14pm
Freeview Entertainment

Rylan Clark Neal

BBC

Red tomatoes, green peppers, 20 minute challenges, limited budgets and delicious cooking. In many ways Ready Steady Cook has barely changed since it last aired a decade ago.

However, anyone tuning in to the revamped BBC One cookery show will have noticed some big differences from the previous incarnations hosted by Ainsley Harriott and Fern Britton.

Firstly, Rylan Clark-Neal continues his takeover of every single TV and radio station as the new host.

And he’s joined by a batch of exciting new talent from the culinary world - Mike Reid, Romy Gill, Akis Petretzikis, Ellis Barrie and Anna Haugh.

Here is a quick guide to the new-look team for BBC One’s Ready Steady Cook…

Presenter - Rylan Clark-Neal

Rylan Clark-Neal in the new Ready Steady Cook studio BBC
Ready Steady Cook - Generics

What was it like meeting the chefs for the first time?

Before we filmed the series we did a test day in a cookery school, so we could meet one and other. And I thought: "Please don’t be hard to work with, please don’t be." Within ten minutes I think I made a joke, Akis said something, Ellis started laughing, Mike’s laugh was hilarious, and everyone was gone. It was like: "Actually I’m really looking forward to this", so all the nerves went out the window.

How have you taken to the show’s eco credentials?

It’s literally been amazing. I’m Head of Bins on the set. So we’ve got the three bins - your mixed recycling, general waste then food waste. I‘m like: “No that goes in that bin!" We show how the food is coming in as well. Nothing is wrapped in plastic, it’s all wrapped in paper.

Have you learnt much being on the show?

Last night, I was cooking at home and Dan was like, where did you learn how to do that, and I was like: "Ready Steady Cook". It is crazy how much I’ve learnt, and I’m not even sat at home watching everything. I’m glancing between the kitchens, getting involved here and getting involved there. But there’s so many tips and tricks that I’ve learnt along the way…

Chefs - Mike Reid

Chef Mike Reid on Ready Steady Cook BBC
Ready Steady Cook - Generics

He first fell in love with cooking while at university, and after choosing to follow his passion full time, found himself under the tutelage of Michel Roux Jr, Gordon Ramsay, and even cooking alongside Heston Blumenthal.

In 2014, he opened Jardin Tan in Melbourne before returning to the UK to open another restaurant the same year, M in London. Never one to shy away from hard work, he balances his time between his restaurants in Melbourne and the UK. His food is eclectic, drawing on influences and cuisines from across the globe.

Why did you choose to take part in Ready Steady Cook?

I grew up watching Ready Steady Cook. I used to watch it with my mum and sisters, and at Uni I used to run home from lectures to watch. It was just such a big part of my life!

How have you found taking part?

In one word - fun! It was such a laugh to cook with my fellow chefs and work with Rylan, we had fantastic contestants as well. To cook in that environment was very different to any other TV or restaurant cooking I have done in the past.

What has been your toughest challenge on the show?

Adapting my style of cooking to 20 minutes for sure. This may sound like a lot of time but it goes in a heartbeat on the show, so in the first episode I shot I was so relaxed and calm until I realised ten minutes had gone when I had done pretty much nothing. Needless to say after that I ran for the rest of the show.

Romy Gill

Romy Gill on Ready Steady Cook BBC
Ready Steady Cook - Generics

Romy initially learned to cook from her mother while growing up in India.

She moved to the UK for university and decided to make the UK her home. A trip to her local curry house left her longing for the authentic flavours of real Indian food and so she decided to open a restaurant, Romy’s Kitchen in Bristol.

How do you feel about taking part in Ready Steady Cook?

I am a self-taught chef and I used to watch the original Ready Steady Cook. I wanted to go and sit in there, I wanted to be in the audience, and I wanted to be a chef on the show. So it’s just so emotional, a very happy moment for me and I’m really proud. As a woman, and for my age, and as a woman on television coming from India, it is huge! And my daughters are just loving it!

What was a highlight of taking part in the show?

I did samosas in the 10 Minutes Challenge, that was the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever made, and I made the pastry and the filling, and did the frying in ten minutes!

What has been your toughest challenge on the show?

So many, one that really I think was very tough was when a contestant cut his finger and I was left cooking on my own but I was more worried about the contestant. RSC is all about bringing the personal talent in you. I loved every minute of it.

Akis Petretzikis

Akis Petretzikis on Ready Steady Cook BBC
Ready Steady Cook - Generics

Akis discovered his true love was cooking whilst training to be an accountant.

Within a year of finishing his degree he had gone on to become the first Greek winner of MasterChef, and later became Head Chef at Michel Roux’s Avenue Bistro. Since then he has become a regular name on Greek TV, fronting several of his own cooking shows, and even hosting the Greek version of Ready Steady Cook. With his own line of cookbooks, food products and his own (bilingual) YouTube channel, this is not a chef who shies away from a challenge.

Have you ever done cooking on TV before?

Yeah, but not in the UK. I’ve done a little bit of everything in Greece where I am from. A little bit of MasterChef, Bake Off, and I hosted Ready Steady Cook…

What was it like working with the other chefs?

The truth is that when you’re working with other chefs there is great competition and stress. But as soon as I met the other chefs, they were so friendly and (yet) competitive, but in a healthy and creative way. A kind of competition that didn’t go over the top and so everyone had a great time and enjoyed what we were doing. I built a unique friendship with the guys and we still keep in touch, almost daily!

What has been your proudest moment on the show?

The moment I was offered to participate in this production, I felt very proud since I was given the chance to introduce the Greek cuisine and the Mediterranean flavours to the whole world through an acclaimed TV show.

Ellis Barrie

Ellis Barrie on Ready Steady Cook BBC
Ready Steady Cook - Generics

Ellis got his big break in cooking aged just 15, at Fellini’s in Liverpool.

After developing his skills in restaurants across Liverpool and Australia, he eventually relocated to his family home in Anglesey, where with his brothers he turned an abandoned chicken shed on an old camp-site into one of the region’s most talked-about restaurants, the Marram Grass.

After realising how much pork is imported into Wales, he set up his own farm next to the restaurant, providing it with his own home grown vegetables and meat. On top of this, he can often be found foraging for wild garlic along the Anglesey coast. All of which means it’s little surprise that The Marram Grass won Best Bistro/Brasserie of the Year at the Anglesey Tourism Awards, and Ellis personally was named one of the most promising names in hospitality under 30.

Why did you choose to take part in Ready Steady Cook?

I loved the programme as a kid. It pushed me into actually wanting to cook. It’s food which is accessible, you can go to the supermarkets and cook it in time, with good budgets. So, everybody can relate to it.

What was your biggest disaster in the competition?

I turned the oven off! I was doing pastries and luckily it just sort of… worked. Next time I think I’ll put it on a higher temperature!

How did you find the show’s new eco credentials?

You learn so much, you know in the day and age of sustainability. I think people need to be able to understand how they can do it at home because we put so many demands on people, but it’s like: "Well okay, you tell me that I can’t use a plastic bottle or I can’t do ready meals, well what am I meant to do?"This is where Ready Steady Cook comes in.

Anna Haugh

Anna Haugh on Ready Steady Cook BBC
Ready Steady Cook - Generics

Anna grew up surrounded by a family who loved cooking and while her career has brought her through some of the top restaurants all over the UK and France, she has never lost touch with those Irish roots.

After establishing herself at restaurants including London’s Pied à Terre and Paris’ Hotel Lotti, she helped launch Gordon Ramsay’s London House restaurant, acting as its first head chef. In 2019 she opened her own restaurant Myrtle in Chelsea.

Why did you choose to take part in Ready Steady Cook?

I want to be associated with a programme that I felt was a high enough calibre that you had to be able to cook, that was really important for me. So I was so reassured that in the 10 Minutes Challenge the pressure was really up - it was hard work!

How have you found taking part?

It’s so surreal, I remember coming in from school and watching this programme. The idea that someone would say: “Anna, in 20 years’ time you’re going to be a chef on Ready Steady Cook!” I wouldn’t have believed them.

How was it working with your fellow chefs?

It’s a competition but there is no rivalry. I think that’s quite nice because you know you’re coming in and you’re competing, but you’re enjoying it. You’re not worried that you won’t be good enough, it doesn’t have that feeling. But you can see that in the show, you’re just allowed to be yourself.

What were you proudest of on the show?

Well that’s easy, after every show, I felt so proud that I actually got the food up, on Rylan's Island, on time. Sometimes I almost bit off more than I could chew but I guess that’s what made me run a little faster.

Watch Ready Steady Cook weekdays at 4.30pm on BBC One.

Catch up on all the episodes you miss on BT TV via the BBC iPlayer app.