Since breaking out with her debut book and TV series in 2011, former model Lorraine Pascale has become something of a poster girl for healthy eating. We chat exclusively to the celebrity cook about her latest project and why creating delicious dishes from scratch at home needn’t be a chore…
It takes a dash of courage and a dollop of drive to completely reinvent yourself; particularly when you’re posing for Sports Illustrated and brushing shoulders with the likes of Kate Moss. But that’s exactly what Lorraine Pascale did when she decided to ditch the catwalk glamour of Paris, New York and Milan for the art of gastronomy in London.
Indeed, before becoming the household name she is today, the now 42-year-old celebrity cook first cut her culinary teeth at Leiths School of Food and Wine and The University of West London.
“It was mainly going to Leiths and The University of West London that got me really passionate about it. It was amazing and so much fun learning all that stuff. It was great to finally find something that I really enjoyed doing and that I could carry on doing and get better and better at.”
Lorraine was born in Hackney, East London and given up for adoption at birth, when she went into foster care and was raised by adoptive parents Audrey and Roger Woodward in Buckinghamshire.
“My dad is a fantastic cook and makes delicious Italian food. He inspired me to cook and my mum would cook delicious food as well; I’ve always eaten a lot and used to be called ‘hollow legs.’”
Following her foster parents’ divorce and another stint in the social care system, Lorraine won a charity funded scholarship to a boarding school in North Devon, before leaving home for Australia to begin her modelling career. A further six years living in New York saw her marry Polish musician Count Kaz Balinski-Jundzill, with whom she had her daughter Ella in 1996, before their separation and eventual divorce.
It wasn’t long, however, before itchy feet and a desire to be more grounded for her daughter saw Lorraine move back to London with new ambitions and fresh ideas on where to take her career. Today, the face of books and series like Baking Made Easy and How to Be a Better Cook is a bestselling author, television personality and all-round champion of healthy eating and living, as demonstrated in her most recent project. Taking favourite recipes and giving them a refreshing, nutritious twist, Eating Well Made Easy provides a snapshot of Lorraine’s own day-to-day eating habits for readers to try at home.
“The inspiration behind it is that it’s the way I actually eat, so the food I eat every day is what you see in the book. Most of the time you just want a recipe that’s going to be quick, reasonably priced and that’s going to actually work.”
Delectable highlights include peanut butter and banana muffins, no-cook chocolate espresso cheesecake squares and beetroot risotto with feta cheese and mint. illustrating a wealth of sweet and savoury dish. But the book’s real strength lies in its ability to transform everyday foods into truly show stopping meals.
“I quite often make the fruit berry tarts with vanilla cashew cream; they’re quite easy and look stunning and really impressive, so they’re great ones to make. I love the leek, aubergine and chickpea tagine with cashew nuts and apricots, and have the cinnamon protein pancakes a lot.”
Despite her best efforts, though, it would seem that eating well might not be as easy as she’d once hoped. As food prices continue to soar, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the average Brit to afford the local, seasonal ingredients required to whip up a wholesome family meal.
“There’s a lot of work to do, mainly in price, because to eat healthy can sometimes be very expensive, and it’s much easier to go and get a bag of crisps unfortunately. Local food isn’t sustainable in the UK, as we don’t have enough space to sustain ourselves.”
Elsewhere, her philanthropic activities have seen her draw on her own childhood experiences to become a patron of TACT (The Adolescent and Children’s Trust), which is the UK’s largest charity and voluntary agency providing fostering and adoption services.
“It’s really important, especially if you’re in the public eye, to give something back, and seeing as my history was fostering and adoption, I thought it was a really good charity to be with. It’s a great feeling, as it helps other people and also helps you feel like you’re doing something good.”
But while cooking shows and books will no doubt remain her bread and butter, Lorraine is also keen to adopt a more DIY approach, joining the social media revolution.
“I’m moving a lot into YouTube at the moment; it’s real, it’s current and I think it’s brilliant. I’d like to focus on doing that and bring lots of interesting, current recipes into people’s homes.
“I’m doing a whole series of videos for students, which I film myself, because my daughter’s just gone to university, so some tasty recipes for students that are quick and not just pasta!”