She survived the first round of the semi-finals of MasterChef earlier this week, but it’s Sarah Rankin’s friend’s son who is really putting her through her paces.
The 10-year-old pitched the idea that he wanted to sell Sarah’s autograph for £100 a pop, although he said pay her £10 per autograph to ensure she wasn’t missing out.
Sarah, who has lived in Kinross with her family since 2006 and is originally from Inverness, has been competing on the BBC One cooking show for the past few weeks.
She will cook against her competitors again this evening at 8pm on BBC One.
During her time she has continued to impress hosts and judges Gregg Wallace and John Torode, and is already looking forward to the next challenge.
While she says she hasn’t been asked for a selfie yet despite her friend’s son looking to make a profit from her growing fame, the mum-of-two says she has been inundated with support from those in the Kinross and Inverness communities.
“When I was at the dentist the girls were going crazy and on the school run people have started coming up to me. You don’t realise how exposing being on TV is. Everyone has been so lovely and supportive. It is a very, very odd sensation,” she said.
On Tuesday she got her first taste of what it is like to work in a restaurant setting, with judge John Torode running the pass.
The marketing consultant impressed with her pigeon dish, however it wasn’t until the night the show aired that she found out what the feedback from the judges were on her dish.
“It is amazing to have got through. We (the contestants) didn’t get to hear what they (the judges) said so that part was quite nerve-wracking to watch.
“You’re also so engrossed in your own stuff so it was nice to see what everyone else did.”
Meeting John and Gregg was a surreal experience for Sarah who has been a fan of the show since it was aired with Loyd Grossman.
She said: “You walk into the kitchen for the first time and they are just there on set as you would see them on the TV. It is really iconic.
“They are very warm and welcoming and even when things don’t go right, it is still a really positive environment.”
And despite millions of viewers tuning in, it is all about focusing on what’s going on in the moment for Sarah.
“It is definitely pressured. It isn’t the same as cooking in your kitchen. The time is exactly as is, so if they say there’s an hour and 20 minutes, that’s all you get. There’s no TV magic.
“John and Gregg come and ask questions so you have to be prepared for that and there’s four or five camera operators going around. They seem to have a knack for knowing when something is going wrong – they have a sixth sense for disaster which adds to the stress levels.
“It is a big TV show, but for me is it all about the food and cooking. I wanted to challenge myself and see what I could learn. At the time you’re so in the zone and want to get the plate of food up to them to be judged.”
The process to apply for MasterChef is a lengthy one, with various interviews and stages to complete and even Sarah’s husband didn’t know she applied until she told him she’d be on the show.
hen I applied I never thought I’d get in and when I got through the auditions and they phoned to tell me I was on the show I thought ‘God, I better tell my husband now’ as I hadn’t told him.”
An advocate for supporting local, every dish that she’s been able to practice at home has included showcasing the best of local.
Sarah says while she would have loved to have used producers from the local area on TV, the show has its own suppliers to make things easier and safe for all involved.
“It makes more sense logistically,” she said.
“They have a solid system in place and support local too. There’s very little food waste and anything that can be is donated or used in other things.”
The invention test, where contestants are put through their paces, resulted in Sarah producing her favourite dish to date – mussels and lemon sole.
And now the whole family has been enjoying it regularly.
She added: “I loved that experience and there’s everything you could ever imagine available. It is a playground for anyone who loves cooking.
“I didn’t feel stressed about it at all. I’d actually never filleted a lemon sole before but I managed to blag my way through it on screen. It turned out really well and I make it at home a lot now.
“The other contestants have been so warm and lovely. We’re all still really close and they are fantastic cooks. I feel lucky to have shared the experience with them.”