In the kitchen with… Jane Devonshire

We chat to Jane Devonshire after the recent announcement that she is to join Coeliac UK as an ambassador

Coeliac UK announces Jane Devonshire, champion of MasterChef 2016, as its new ambassador who will spearhead the national charity’s 2020 campaign to help find thousands of children living with undiagnosed coeliac disease. We caught up with her following the news to find out more and her journey so far…

jane devonshire

You’ve had a whirlwind few years since winning MasterChef! How has life changed?

Completely, I had been at home with the children looking after them and the day after I won I was on BBC Breakfast TV, the front page of the newspapers, featured on numerous radio shows and immersed in a whirlwind of publicity. Since then, I’ve been on TV and radio shows, featured in numerous publications and travelled all over the country presenting at loads of food festivals and I do a lot of work for large corporates.  I am just writing my second book life is getting busier and busier and I love it.

What made you decide to apply for the show?

My children, I was such a fan of the show but never ever believed I was good enough to go on the show never mind winning. The children were really responsible for me entering they kept saying I should do it and Ben filled out the form so I had to go for it then.

What fueled your focus on gluten-free food?

My youngest son Ben was diagnosed with coeliac disease when he was 2 years old, it was a tough time he had been so ill. As a result, I have gluten-free Kitchen at home and I primarily cook gluten-free meals for everyone.

What’s your favourite thing to cook at home?

I find this such a difficult question! I love all cooking really and have always been constantly trying new things.  My favourite thing is to be cooking with my Mum and my family it doesn’t really matter what but I do love Asian style food and at the moment am really teaching myself a lot of new dishes last year it was middle eastern. If I had to pick a cuisine it would be British the food I grew up eating.

How would you sum up your baking style?

I love baking but I am not a fan of overcomplicated and I am definitely no piping wizard but I do love making cakes and pies and puddings, so I would say my baking style is very much home cooking

Any tips or advice for those starting out making gluten-free food?

Don’t stress it is just food and most of what we eat meat, fish, fruit and vegetables is naturally gluten-free.  I think the tendency to overcomplicate it puts a lot of people off and I am trying to show people that it’s as easy as everyday cooking, you just need a few little tips and tricks.

We love your Instagram and Twitter? How do you find balancing your day-to-day with uploading regularly on social media?

I struggle with it, I don’t like to upload a lot of family stuff and often I am cooking normal food like Shepherds Pies etc so I do worry it gets boring for people.  I try to only post when something interesting is going on and to always be positive, it is a wonderful thing to be able to talk to people and I am just amazed that people want to follow me really, I find it really lovely.

We also love your cookbook – how did you find the writing process?

Oh, Thank you I am so incredibly proud of it.  I so wanted to write an everyday family cookbook for people who need to be gluten free. The book has been so well received and I know it is helping a lot of people which is lovely.  I did find writing recipes at the beginning really quite difficult in that I cook by instinct very rarely timing things or measuring accurately unless baking.  It was a real learning curve but I have grown to love it when you crack a recipe you know is really good its a fabulous feeling.

You’ve recently been announced as ambassador for Coeliac UK – what made you decide to get involved? What do you hope to achieve with the charity?

I have by a gradual process worked more and more with Coeliac UK over the last 3 years. They are incredible charity offering so much for people with coeliac disease from their fantastic award-winning app (Gluten Free Food Checker app), helplines and day to day support but they also lobby and work with government and large companies to improve the lives and gluten free products that people can get access to. With a son that suffers with the disease I feel education is so important – it’s an autoimmune condition not a lifestyle choice for so many.

With an estimated 1 in 100 people having coeliac disease and on average 13 years to get diagnosed I just knew I wanted to get involved, I have seen first hand how dramatic a difference being diagnosed and adapting your diet makes to someone with coeliac disease. 

I am so proud that they have asked me and can’t wait next year to spearhead their awareness campaign for early diagnosis in children.

Coeliac Awareness Weeks next year is Monday 11 May – Sunday 17 May, find out more on the Coeliac UK website.

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