Life of a TV Chef

Our Sky Dining guest chef Steph Moon is no stranger to TV, having appeared on Great British Menu for three seasons and also on Chefs: Put your money where your mouth is, both shown on the BBC. We sat down with Steph to find out more about the life of a TV chef and what the stand out moments of her career have been so far.

Who is your favourite celebrity chef?

In this job you get to meet a lot of them I am very lucky to have met Gordon Ramsey, Marco Pierre White – both were lovely and I was surprised as I thought they would be really scary! Jason Atherton and Nigel Haworth were both firm but fair when they judged me on the Great British Menu. So too were Oliver Payton, Matthew Fort and Prue Leith (Prue did say “She wished she could cook like this Chef could cook” I remember those words and that makes me happy!)

I’ve met celebrity chefs such as James Martin and the Hairy Bikers. Paul Hollywood and I used to work together at the Dorchester in the pastry department. He was Head Baker and I was a Commis chef. Mary Berry once told me doing cookery demonstrations gets easier the more you do – I was doing my first one in Norfolk about 17 years ago and she was lovely!

They are all great but perhaps my favourite is Brian Turner. I have cooked for him and he was very complimentary. I have also judged a cookery competition this year with him and he gave me my Yorkshire Life Food and Drink award for being the county’s best chef so I guess we have a connection there. I also worked with Rosemary Shrager in her house to cook through her latest cookery book and she credited me in the back – what a lovely lady! As mad as a box of frogs but I loved working with her and she is a very good chef under all that humour.

How does the challenge of cooking at Emirates Spinnaker Tower compare to the challenge of Great British Menu?

Steph MoonWell, cooking 28 seconds up in the air is a new one for me. When I was a kid, we lived on a farm and we used to go into the barn, sling over bale twine ropes and hurtle off the loft into the air. I could never abseil down the tower. It is just not in my DNA. I struggle with the glass floor on View Deck 1 if I am honest!

The Great British Menu was one of the toughest things I have ever done. It really was emotionally and physically draining. You had to put yourself out there – the judges were tough, but fair.

This Pop up restaurant at the Emirates Spinnaker Tower is creative fun and the reward is the guests enjoying the food – well let’s hope they do! The feedback from the launch evening was great. The good people of Portsmouth and beyond want value and flavour and I think we offer that with the Sky Dining.


If you went on Ready Steady Cook, what would be in your bag?

I actually did audition for Ready Steady Cook years ago and I can tell you what I got in my bag – a chicken breast, broccoli head and potatoes. I was only 26 years old and having never done a cookery demo at the time I was so nervous! I am not surprised I didn’t get asked back – they had 3 sheets of A4 names and there where about 30 of us for about 8 chef positions. They chose Brian Turner, Anthony Worrall Thompson and Ainsley Harriet. Since having done Great British Menu on BBC2 for three years and Chefs: Put your Menu where your Mouth is, I know I would do a much better job of it now.


What has been your defining career moment?

There have been some real highlights in my career so far:

  • Doing Great British Menu. The first year I did the show, I was filling up my car in Tesco’s and a guy hollered over “oy are you Steph Moon”. “Yes”  I replied. He said “you were blooming robbed in that programme”- it made my day!
  • Winning a gold medal at the Salon Culinere in Sydney Australia. the day of the competition my Volkswagen combi van broke down and work had to come and collect me in the Mini-bus. I got to the competition with seconds to spare but the end result was worth it.
  • Going to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen as a Young Achiever was very exciting. I queued up to meet her Majesty and we were told to say our names and where we worked at the time. So I did to which she said “Oh Congham Hall, that has a very good reputation for fine cuisine” I then said *Yes Ma’am and we buy Raspberries from your Estate at Sandringham up the road from us.” She looked at me and I thought “arrgh!” – of all the things to say, that is what I choose to say to the Queen. Then she was gone to the next person and my moment was gone.
  • It’s rewarding to see chefs I have helped to train now going onto great things. I worked with Dan Birk many years ago and he is now Head Chef of Jason Atherton’s restaurant Little Social; another chef James Lovett is Sous Chef to Simon Rogan at L’enclume and Mike Carr has just opened his own restaurant in Harrogate called restaurant 92 to rave reviews. That makes me feel in a very small humble way proud of their achievements.

Enjoy Steph’s seven course menu at our Sky Dining events this summer.