Presenter and former radio host Fearne reveals her domestic side as she chats about recipes for her book and her personal passion for design
How has life been for you since you left BBC Radio 1?
It’s fantastic. It’s completely different but it feels a lot more balanced than it did before. With having two kids and my two stepchildren now I get to work from home more which really suits how I like to parent, which is to be around as much as I can as well as giving energy to my work. It’s great, every day is different and my kids get to see what I get up to which is lovely. I was ready for a change, and it’s been a liberating and diverse year.
Your first cookbook, ‘Cook Happy, Cook Healthy’ is out now. Can you tell us a bit more about the book and what you hope people will get from it?
I hadn’t given it much thought initially and I believed a book was a bit of a pipe dream, but I have always loved cooking and food. This book has simple, quick and easy food to make. I am just a very keen home cook, so it’s meals that I cook a lot for my friends and family. It has an underlying healthy ethos because I like to cook as much from scratch as I can with good ingredients. I hope that people enjoy cooking from it and it gives them some fun recipes that make life a bit easier. I have been working on the recipes and styling for the book for the past year. I’m a slight control freak so have been very much along for the whole ride, and now I have got the book I desperately wanted.
We’ve heard that you love Smeg appliances and are going to be collaborating with them this year, can you tell us a bit more?
I’m over the moon to be working with Smeg because it’s a kitchen brand that I have always seen as being the most cool and forward-thinking in terms of design, as well as innovative and practical. I love that they are a family run company from Italy, and it is a dream partnership for me. We are going to be doing lots of different things together, and I am recreating some recipes especially for the Smeg website.
What is your favourite Smeg appliance?
The stand mixer has changed my whole baking situation. As I have got kids they often help me bake cakes and it’s often a long and messy process, but with this mixer it’s so easy and you get such a smooth batter, and it also comes with a range of attachments that have revolutionised the way I bake bread and make desserts. Plus, my kitchen looks really pretty with the 50s style pastel pink toaster and green kettle! Why shouldn’t your kitchen appliances be as lovely as any other furniture you buy?
What is your kitchen like at home?
When we moved into this house two years ago the kitchen was really tiny, and because my husband and I love cooking and with the kitchen being the hub of the house we just wanted to get the kitchen right, so we knocked through three rooms on the middle level to create a dining, kitchen and living area in one. The kitchen has a big island in the middle, with the main design feature being three lights over the island which I designed. They are old-fashioned lampshades that I had handmade with vintage flowers and a nice tassel trim with beading, quite French with an antique vibe. The other main piece is a beautiful blue French dresser that belonged to my husband’s late mother, which holds a lot of memories for him as a child. My dream aesthetic is quite colourful, fantastical, vintage, lived-in and homely.
You’ve got lots of exciting things going on work-wise, but you’re also a wife and mum. How do you balance your work and family life these days?
I think most working mums feel the same, which is that you have never really cracked it! There are days where you get to have the whole day with the kids and then you’ll be doing emails till midnight, and then the next day you will be at work and think you had a productive day but you missed the kids, so I think it’s a constant juggle. What I am trying to learn to do is when I am either at work or at home with the kids is to be totally dedicated to what I am doing. I need to apply my energy in the best way that I can. It’s constant and knackering but also amazing and I love being a mum as well as my job, so I have to keep trying to find a way to do both well.
You’ve had some dream career opportunities over the years, so now that you’ve changed direction what are your new goals?
I think my goals have changed because when I was in my early 20s it was really obvious, I wanted to do big TV shows, so I did prime time shows both here and in America. Then I had the kids and don’t want to be travelling all the time, I want to be able to do things that I believe in and feel passionate about, mixed with me being able to be a great mum. For me that means sacrificing work to some extent. So, for now my goals are just to do things that feel authentic, things that I enjoy and have fun doing, whether that’s on a creative or personal level. In a sense it has become easier because I am a bit more mindful about what I do and don’t do but then it’s become slightly broader in subject matter and genre. I’m just taking each day as it comes now. I do have short term goals – I do really want my book to be received well and for people to enjoy it and like making the food, so that is all I can hope for at the moment and anything else is a plus.
‘Cook Happy, Cook Healthy’ by Fearne Cotton, published by Orion, June 2016. Hardback at £20, eBook £10.99. Photos by Tamin Jones©
Top photo by Nicholas Yarsley
Article by: Lucy Macdonald