Food & Drink

TV personality Fred Sirieix: Insects might be the future of food

Fred Sirieix calls his latest series, The World Cook, the ‘Olympics of cooking competitions’.

Fred Sirieix co-hosts The World Cook with Emma Willis
Fred Sirieix Fred Sirieix co-hosts The World Cook with Emma Willis (Alamy Stock Photo)

Fred Sirieix got a glimpse of the future of food while travelling the world for his latest TV show.

Sirieix, who is best known as Channel 4’s First Dates Maître d’, sampled food in Iceland, Turkey, Croatia, Crete and Thailand, as he returned as co-host of culinary competition The World Cook.

“In Thailand, we got the contestants to cook insects – they were cooking grasshoppers. I didn’t have any grasshoppers when I was in the I’m A Celebrity… jungle, and I didn’t do any of the eating trials thankfully, but the grasshoppers I had in Thailand were OK. They were crunchy,” Sirieix, 52, says.

“Maybe that is going to be the future, because the way we are eating will have to change. There’s a lot more people living on Earth and we all need to eat, so it may be that, very soon, we’re going to be eating protein from grasshoppers. I don’t know when that will be – I’m very happy to carry on eating my chicken and sausages.

“In Thailand, you can go and you eat in the street for £5, £10, it’s just mad. It’s such unbelievable value. I’m sending my daughter [Olympic diver Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix] there. I said, ‘You should go there after the Olympics, go to Thailand and just spend a month backpacking, you’ll make amazing memories’.”

Fresh from living in the I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! jungle last December, Sirieix says he enjoyed a spell of peace and quiet on the show.

(TUI/Prime Video)
(TUI/Prime Video)

“There is no phone, there is no television, there are no books, and I really enjoyed that. To find that peace and serenity inside my head like that, I’ve never experienced that in my life before. For me, it’s about taking a bit of the jungle out into the real world, to just be able to find that peace and quiet that I had in the jungle. For the first time in my life, I was by myself inside my head and that was just wonderful,” he says.

Now, Sirieix is co-hosting the second season of The World Cook, alongside presenter Emma Willis.

“I’m super happy to be back and to be working with Emma. I love working with Emma, she’s such a pro and so easy to work with,” Sirieix adds. “We can just work on delivering the magic on the screen, which is exactly what we’re here to do.

“There are always funny moments with Emma, because she’s a really fun person! When we were in Crete, before she came in, I dressed up as a Spartan with a kebab stick as a sword and a towel around my neck. I was walking like King Leonidas in Sparta. I was in silly flip flops, screaming, ‘This is Sparta!’ She looked at me and said, ‘Fred, it’s not Sparta, it’s Crete. Get out of your Speedos and get to work!’

(TUI/Prime Video)
(TUI/Prime Video)

“For a lot of TV cookery shows, they are very serious. But at the same time, we like to have fun, we like to inject a bit of humour.”

During the competition, contestants use their favourite ingredients to represent their home nations through dishes. On the menu is Swahili-inspired chicken cooked two ways from Kenya, Arbroath smokie fish cake from Scotland and traditional stuffed crepes from Hungary.

So, what is the key to being a successful chef? Sirieix says it’s all about understanding that there are no shortcuts when it comes to making a tasty dish.

“You can cook very simple food that doesn’t take long to cook, but you’re still doing it properly. It means using the right ingredients that you’ve picked and bought at the right time, that you’re cooking correctly,” he says.

(TUI/Prime Video)
(TUI/Prime Video)

“It’s about experience but also, it’s about your interest. It’s an art, it’s a science, it’s a profession. And it’s something that you know, either you’re good at, or you’re not good at. What I mean by that, is that you can be good at it.”

The show, which Sirieix calls the ‘Olympics of cooking competitions’ sees contenders judged by Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar and The Great British Bake Off runner-up, Crystelle Pereira, who is now an author and presenter.

The champion will be honoured by having the TUI BLUE Sarigerme Park Hotel restaurant named after them, and they will also work with TUI to create a tasting menu for the restaurant.

The World Cook returns to Amazon Prime on March 16.