Rak-Su band-member Myles Stephenson reveals how he discovered his love of cooking, the tips he picked up on I'm A Celebrity and the disasters he's had....
When it comes to cooking Rak-Su band member Myles Stephenson loves getting creative in the kitchen.
The 28-year-old demonstrated his culinary flair when taking part in last years I'm A Celebrity and quickly became one of the camp's main cooks whipping up meals from ingredients like possum.
Now he's hoping to impress judges Gregg Wallace and John Torode with his skills as he joins this year's line up in Celebrity MasterChef.
Here in an exclusive interview for What's On TV, Myles reveals how he first discovered his passion, which celebs he enjoyed meeting on the show and how he's well on the road to recovery following a terrifying accident earlier in the year which put him in intensive care....
Myles Stephenson talks exclusively to What's On TV
What's On TV: How nervous were you about doing Celebrity MasterChef?
Myles Stephenson: "I was actually very excited but when it got to the actual day of filming and you walk in and John and Gregg are there, you look at where you’re going to be cooking, it suddenly becomes very real and you’re like ‘Right! This is serious now.’ My nerves were really bad to start with. Everything I’d ever learnt about cooking went out of the window."
Had you watched MasterChef as a fan on TV before?
MS: "A little bit but I’m not a big TV watcher to be honest. I’d seen enough to know what Gregg and John are like, they’re obviously big personalities. Meeting them, they’re so hilarious together, such lovely people. Being on MasterChef was another wow moment just like when I did X Factor and I’m A Celebrity."
Had you met any of the celebrities in your heat before and what were the dynamics like?
MS: "I know Judi (Love), I’ve met her a few times, she’s a lovely lady, Shyko (Amos) as well, just a bundle of cuteness. They’re both lovely. John Barnes, obviously I grew up watching football and wanting to be a footballer so it was great to meet him. I’m a Watford boy and he played for Watford for a big chunk of his career and then Tom (Skinner), I’d never watched the Apprentice so I didn’t know anything about him, he’s a great guy, we’re both the same age and we got on really well. We couldn’t have had a better group. It was a really fun group of people."
How did your love of cooking begin?
MS: "It was my nan who really got me into it. I got expelled from school when I was a naughty little kid and my mum, who’s a nurse, was busy doing day and night shifts, so I’d get taken round to my nan’s who would make me cook with her. I used to pretend that I really hated it so it seemed like some kind of punishment but actually I enjoyed it. I think she secretly knew I loved it. It brought us closer together, so it was my nan who really found my passion."
And what are your biggest food influences?
MS: "My nan’s Jamaican and I’m very, very passionate about my heritage. So West Indian food for me that’s the kind of cuisine I go to, that’s my bread and butter, and what I love the most. When I eventually have kids of my own I want that heritage there, I want them to understand the pleasure people can get from food and see how it is something that brings people together and puts a smile on people’s faces."
Do you cook for your Rak-Su band-mates and what would you rustle up if they were coming round for dinner?
MS: "Yeah, I’ve cooked for them many a time. I’d probably actually go for Italian because Jamal loves pasta, he’s obsessed with it, so maybe an alfredo, a bolognaise a carbonara. If we spend the whole day together it would be Caribbean. The boys love my rice and peas. Curried goat is another thing I love cooking so maybe that."
Did you pick up any cooking tricks or tips during your time on I’m A Celebrity?
MS: "Do you know what, it was such fun cooking in the jungle. The thing I learnt was really when it comes to meat, you cook it the same whether it’s a possum, a silkie or chicken. I definitely learnt more about vegetables. I’m not a big veg eater but we had all kinds of things like samphire in the jungle so it expanded my veg knowledge."
Are there any ingredients you cooked in the jungle that you’ve continued to cook with back in the UK?
MS: "Hell no! (laughing). As much as I love cooking, I don’t think I’m passionate enough to try and source a silkie or a possum!"
What about your kitchen at home? Is it kitted out with all the mod cons for cooking?
MS: "I’m staying at my aunt’s at the moment because I’ve bought a house but haven’t been able to move into it yet because of lockdown and everything going on. I’ve got my knife set that my mum bought for me, it’s a really good one, and that’s all I need for cooking until I get move into my own place. I’ll be sticking around the Watford area when I move, I’m a Watford boy through and through. I don’t think I could move far away. It’s exciting planning what I’m going to have in my new place."
Have you had cooking disasters in the past where things have gone badly wrong?
MS: "Many! I’ve got a tonne of scars on me from burns when I’ve been doing cooking. I can remember one vividly, I must have been about 12 or 13 and I was frying sausages for breakfast and I got the oil really hot. Then when I’d finished cooking I put cold water straight into it hissed everywhere, went up in flames and nearly burnt the house down!"
And on the subject of accidents, how is your recovery going following your snowboarding accident in February (Myles was in intensive care for 12 days).
MS: "Yeah. I’m getting there, I’ve had my rehab sessions and I’m fully on the road to recovery. I’ve been given the all clear by the doctors now so I don’t need any more CT scans. I’m at the phase now were I’m building myself up again. I still get pain from my ribs and there’s still a slight amount of blood in my lungs."
It must have been so frightening. Are you able to do any exercise?
MS: "I went for a run last week and ran about 0.8km which is not far but I was absolutely wrecked after that. I need to get my fitness back to a standard, because with singing and obviously with dancing around the stage, well we can’t do it at the moment because of lockdown which is probably a good thing for me, but for doing that I need my lungs back working properly, but it’s baby steps, one step at a time. I’ve made a start with the running. I will get there eventually."
What’s next for you and for Rak-Su?
MS: "Me and the boys have just released a song called Palm Trees which is pulling in good numbers, our core fans are always there and they support us through thick and thin which is great and we’re so grateful. Then I’m doing some solo stuff as well, I’ve always said to the boys I want to do some solo music, they’re my best mates and they back me through whatever and Ashley has already released solo music which is doing well. So my plans are to stay in Rak-Su keep on releasing music with the boys. Lockdown is happening but making music goes on. It doesn’t stop."
Celebrity Masterchef starts on BBC1 on Wednesday July 1 at 9pm
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Tess is a senior writer for What’s On TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite and WhattoWatch.com She's been writing about TV for over 25 years and worked on some of the UK’s biggest and best-selling publications including the Daily Mirror where she was assistant editor on the weekend TV magazine, The Look, and Closer magazine where she was TV editor. She has freelanced for a whole range of websites and publications including We Love TV, The Sun’s TV Mag, Woman, Woman’s Own, Fabulous, Good Living, Prima and Woman and Home.
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