CELEBRITY chef Rosemary Shrager will be at the forefront of a new BBC cooking programme aimed at cementing the broadcaster’s reputation as the home of cuisine after The Great British Bake Off moved to Chanel Four.

The Tunbridge Wells-based chef, who has gained a popular following through her cookery books and other television appearances, will be starring in the Big Family Cooking Showdown which is scheduled for broadcasting in the autumn.

Speaking to the Times Mrs Shrager said she was ‘thrilled’ at being selected and has spent the recent weeks filming ‘all over the country’ for the show.

Describing what viewers can expect, she added: “The exciting thing is it is a blend of home and studio cooking and families are very much at the heart of the programme.

“I’m hoping to be inspired and surprised by the dishes these families cook at home to put a smile on each other’s faces. We’ll be searching for a household where food is at the heart of their family, with kitchen duties and recipes shared between the generations.

“The programme was commissioned before the Bake Off was even sold”

“But the best part is that the studio itself is in Kent so I will be on home turf.”

Although the BBC’s announcement that it will be broadcasting The Big Family Cooking Showdown has been interpreted as a reaction to its loss of Bake Off, Mrs Shrager hinted that this may not be the case.

She said: “What many people don’t know is the programme was commissioned before the Bake Off was even sold.”

Mrs Shrager is no stranger to show business, having recently appeared in The Real Marigold Hotel and I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here.

Other accolades include being an haute cuisine teacher on the reality television programme Ladette to Lady and a being a judge on Soapstar Superchef. She is also a regular columnist in our sister publication So magazine.

Less well known is her encounter with Donald Trump during the making of US reality TV show The Girls of Hedsor Hall, a show he helped produce.

Mrs Shrager, who played a disciplinarian style role in the 2009 show which dealt with reforming 12 ‘out of control’ American girls, is reported as telling the new US president that he is ‘the rudest man I have ever met’, but has not elaborated on why.

In a move which reinforces the perception of a looming ratings rivalry between BBC and Chanel Four, the local chef will be starring alongside former Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain on the Big Family Cooking Showdown.

Renowned chef Giorgio Locatelli will round off the professional judges, while television personality Zoe Ball will help front the 12-part show.

On Monday, (March 6) Mrs Shrager could be found at her eponymous cookery school on The Pantiles, overseeing a more low key cooking competition aimed at promoting National Apprentice Week.

The apprenticeship scheme is run through the Hadlow Group, which formed a partnership with Rosemary Shrager’s Cookery School in November last year.

To mark National Apprentice Week, four of the group’s most talented would-be-chefs were presented with a tray of ingredients before being given just 30 minutes to decide a two-course menu and a further two hours to make their dish.

Among those judging the Level two and three apprentices were Mrs Shrager herself, Mayor David Neve, Scott Hurley, Chef recruitment consultant for Hilton hotels and Ian Piper, Head of Faculty at West Kent College.

The winner was Lauren-Louise Nicholson,18, doing her Level 3 apprenticeship with the Cookery School. She cooked pork fillet with potato fondant, crispy leeks, crispy bacon with a rosemary oil and garlic foam, with a dessert of lemon and blackcurrant soufflé.

Hope West, Head of Apprentices at Hadlow Group, said the educational organisation was looking to grow the number of apprentice chefs in the coming years and the competition was a way of promoting the scheme, adding: “It is also just an opportunity to celebrate their talents and showcase how much they have learned.”