Jane Devonshire shot to fame after winning the BBC’s MasterChef competition in 2016. Since then, she has worked with some of the nation’s top chefs and appears regularly at food and drink festivals around the country. Last year, Jane teamed up with Seafish – the UK’s authority on Seafood – to spearhead a campaign which aims to encourage the public to eat two portions of fish each week, as recommended by health experts.
The Seafish Fish 2 a Week campaign was an obvious thing for me to be involved in. I’m trying to get rid of this idea that fish is hard to cook. I actually think fish is easier to cook than meat. It’s perfect instant food. You can cook a fish dish and have it on the table in 20 minutes and that’s a lovely thing.
My family are real foodies. My dad was a market trader so he’d bring home weird and wonderful things. I remember this great big flat fish which I now know is a brill. Poor mum was thinking ‘what do I do with this?!’ My mum is an excellent cook. She has that intuitive ability. I grew up surrounded by that and it just sort of rubbed off on me.
I don’t remember being taught to cook. I was just always in the kitchen with people cooking. We’ve always had a big kitchen – dining room and so where the cooking goes on is where most of the family life goes on.
We’ve always been a family that’s eaten a lot of fish. The big thing for us was Sunday tea and I did a take on it in the MasterChef final because it was such a big influence on me. We’d sit down at Sunday teatime and have loads of prawns, mussels, whelks, cockles, winkles. Sunday morning we’d be picking the crabs with my aunty Betty. Those sorts of memories are so evocative. My biggest memory as a child is the family all sitting round eating these little shellfish suppers for tea.
I like to do food that’s accessible. I’m not trying to sell a restaurant. I love watching chefs at festivals because they’re full of tricks and then turn out this beautiful plate of food that you’d want to order in a restaurant. But that’s not me. I try to do something that people can take away and cook at home.
One of my sons is a coeliac and I’ve been working on a gluten free recipe book. When I first started writing recipes for other people I was thinking I’ve got 100 – 200 recipes. But actually what I found out is that I’ve got 100 – 200 ideas and lists of ingredients written down. It was a big learning curve but I’ve ended up loving it.