Kirstie Allsopp is rinsing a collection of handmade glass candlesticks she discovered on a trip to Oslo, cleaning old wax from them, preparing to set her table for a dinner party of 30 guests that evening. Meanwhile, the Location, Location, Location and Kirstie’s Homemade Home presenter says she’s often asked what craft project she’s working on. ‘I’ll know when life has calmed down when I have just one new-from-scratch craft project on the go!’ she says. ‘Most of the time, I’m mending and maintaining!’ By the sound of things, that won’t happen anytime soon.
When we talk, Kirstie has just spent the first part of the year working on Location, Location, Location, which she says ‘represents a bit of a holiday’. And now it’s ‘back to work’. She and co-presenter Phil Spencer have also been filming series three of Love It or List It (helping homeowners choose whether to sell or refurbish their house), and September marks the launch of Kirstie’s first cookbook, Kirstie’s Real Kitchen.
What was the inspiration behind Kirstie’s Real Kitchen?
‘I’ve read lots of cookbooks which say things like, “I was always surrounded by food at home. I grew up in the kitchen.” That really wasn’t me, but I had such passion for napkins and tablecloths, I had to cook something to put on the table! I’ve always said about the crafts on Kirstie’s Homemade Home that if I can do them, anyone can. It’s about confidence. Part of my journey with cooking has involved feeding my stepsons, which was incredibly di cult. Not only trying to persuade them to eat healthy things they didn’t like, but also trying to build a bond with them at the same time. Not an easy combo. There are elements of my travels in there, too. I’ve been inspired by visits to places like East Africa, India and Turkey. And, of course, I’ve spent a hell of a lot of time in dodgy hotels after 18 years of working on Location, Location, Location. That really makes you appreciate home cooking.’
Eighteen years of Location, Location, Location. How do you feel about that?
‘We started making it in 1999 – a different century! I still love it, but of course my relationship with it has evolved. It would be the same in any job. We’re seeing people now who weren’t born when we started, and I love that about it. It’s never “just about the house”. I’ve been asked “Don’t you ever just want to wring their neck?” but there’s always a personal reason for hesitations and complications. There’s a huge connection between being happy in our homes and being happy at work, or as a partner or a parent. That’s why I worry about so many people being priced out of the market, especially young people in the South East. ‘I come from a property-obsessed family. My partner, Ben, is a property developer, and I house-hunt as a fun exercise. I don’t waste anyone’s time, of course, but I do look in magazines and online all the time – not just for work.’
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