The actress-turned-cook and mum of one tells us how adopting daughter Billie and winning Celebrity Masterchef transformed her life.
She was a familiar face on some of Britain’s best-loved TV shows, but Lisa Faulkner’s career took an unexpected turn when she claimed the Celebrity MasterChef crown. Now she is super busy writing cookbooks, being a brand ambassador for Hotpoint and, most importantly, being a mum to her adopted daughter, Billie, aged eight.
Where do you live in London and what do you love most about the area?
North London. It’s amazing. I can walk to the Heath. I have lived all around: Finsbury Park, West Hampstead, Muswell Hill and East Finchley. You’ll never get me out of North London.
Describe a typical weekend in your house?
A lot of weekends are taken up travelling with work, but it’s my favourite thing to be at home. Usually I’m ferrying my daughter, Billie, to drama and then on a Saturday afternoon we’ll either go to the cinema, Ally Pally or go horseriding.
What is your favourite family spot in London?
I love horseriding at the London Equestrian Centre in Mill Hill. I learnt to ride there with my daughter. We started six months ago and we absolutely love it.
“I feel that being a mother defines me. It has changed my life… It was something I always wanted”
And what if you want to escape the city?
I did a job in Pembrokeshire and it was incredible. I went riding on the beach and I’m taking Billie back there for a holiday. We love Cornwall, too.
Where do you go when you have some time to yourself?
I do yoga all the time. And, if John [Torode] and I are both free, I love to have lunch somewhere nice. There’s a brilliant restaurant called Primeur in North London. Otherwise, I just love the cinema.
You adopted your eight-year-old daughter Billie after three rounds of failed IVF. How tough was that experience?
I don’t know what was more difficult, the adoption process or IVF. It’s all a great big struggle but, when you get your baby and become a mum, it all goes out the window and you forget the struggle.
How has motherhood changed your life?
I feel that being a mother defines me. I love it. It has changed my life. It was something I always wanted. And then when it didn’t happen it was really, really tough. But she’s the reason for everything I do.
And MasterChef was pretty life-changing, too, wasn’t it?
I thought that I would go for two days, have a nice time and then go home. I had no idea that it would turn my life around quite so spectacularly.
What are you up to work-wise?
I’ve just finished a coastal cottage series for This Morning about food and cooking in Pembrokeshire and recently launched Hotpoint’s Love Your Kitchen campaign to get families cooking creatively together. I’ve also been doing stuff for The Food Network and then there are all the food shows.
How do you juggle work with being a mum?
I feel constantly guilty. That constant feeling of: I’ve got to be here, be there, do this. You try to be the best you can be, but sometimes things have to give. I try very hard to be at parents’ evening, to bake cakes for sales and pick up Billie as much as I can. It’s one of those things. I don’t know if there is a way of getting it right. Some weeks you feel on top of it, other weeks you’re like, ‘Oh my God!’
Do you and Billie cook up a storm together?
We cook together all the time. She’s started making soups. It’s her favourite thing to do: whizzing, chopping and tasting as she goes along. It’s just ace. I love the fact that she wants to cook. I cooked from the age of five or six and she’s the same.
Where do you shop for Billie?
At the moment, she’s having growth spurt after growth spurt. We get stuff from H&M then, if we want something special, I’ll go to AlexandAlexa or that lovely shop in Primrose Hill, ilovegorgeous.
What would you choose to cook or eat as your last supper?
Roast dinner. Chicken. But I would have to have Yorkshire puddings with it!
What’s on your Christmas wishlist?
I haven’t looked yet, but there will definitely be a bag of some kind. Last year, Liberty had a Diptyque winter candle, the Hiver candle. It is the most amazing smell in the whole land. I’m praying they will bring out the same smell.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m doing live demos at all the food shows over the next few months. I’m also promoting my third book at the moment, Tea and Cake. It’s a great baking book, but not difficult stuff. And then it is on to book number four. I’m super busy, but it’s good.