Dean Edwards and his family-friendly cooking style has made him a firm favourite on ITV’s Lorraine since 2010 but he first made his debut on ITV’s This Morning in September 2009 where he featured in a weekly cookery slot, creating dishes for the ITV audience.
After coming second in BBC’s Masterchef Goes Large in 2006, he sought to change his life radically by leaving his career as a digger driver to pursue his love of cooking and food. Father to Indiana 7 and a relative newcomer to the blogging world, it’s a pleasure to welcome Dean to Honest Mum.
What was your background before going on Masterchef?
I had a strange entry into the world of food, I was actually a digger driver as after finishing university I made the decision to get a job quickly to raise money before chasing my dream job and then found myself still doing it 7 years later. I was happy and content but definitely stuck in a rut. Masterchef gave me the opportunity to break that cycle. I’ve grasped the opportunity with both hands and the one thing this whole experience has shown me is that we never truly know what is round the corner for us.
How has fatherhood made you more creative?
Becoming a dad completely shaped me not only as a person but also when it came to the direction of my career. My approach to food has changed, gone are the days when I could spend all my spare time planning, shopping and cooking. These days, time is of the essence so more often than not I put together food that is quick and easy and that my child and I will both enjoy.
I’m very lucky that Indie is adventurous when it comes to food so as well as loving a classic like cottage pie, she equally enjoys a good old chicken korma from our local Indian with poppadoms and mango chutney. Help me if I forget the mango chutney ha ha! You have to be creative when it come to children and food. Getting the kids involved in cooking is a great way to inspire them to try new and exciting foods.
Describe your journey of getting into the media?
It actually kind of found me, after my appearance on Masterchef in 2006 I had lots of offers to work in the media but I chose not to take them up if I’m honest, probably due to confidence issues, then I was offered to take part in a cooking series for the BBC called Take On The Takeaway which I jumped at the chance to do as I would get to work alongside my food heroes: Ken Hom, JC Novelli and Gary Rhodes so I just couldn’t turn the opportunity down.
After that, I had a meeting at ITV and an amazing lady called Sue Walton who believed in me, took a gamble on me and used me on various shows. I will always be indebted to her. Having someone believe in you is a wonderful thing and I’ll never forget the opportunities she gave me.
How do you overcome self-doubt as a creative?
Self-doubt is actually my biggest problem and at one stage it was really starting to affect my career. I doubted I had the necessary tools to be cooking in front of the camera and I questioned whether I had the authority to do it and if anyone would be interested in what I had to say. I actually used to overload myself, preparing for every eventuality on and off camera, and because of that, I was always on edge and on the defensive. I actually decided enough was enough after watching back one of my cooking segments where I felt I didn’t look like I was enjoying myself. It was there and then that I decided to start having fun and rediscover what it was that made me fall in love with cooking in the first place. I’ve never looked back since.
What are your work goals moving forward?
My goals are to continue chasing the dream. I pinch myself everyday as I honestly can’t believe where I am in my career. I was 28 years old when I decided to leave everything I knew, the security of a 9-5 job to chase my so-called foodie dream. If someone would have told me all those years ago that 12 years on from my Masterchef experience, I would be still working in food and currently writing my third cookbook, I would have said they were crazy!!
My blog is actually becoming a big part of my life too. Initially it was supposed to be predominately food related but it’s often gone off on a tangent, with a focus on my life outside of cooking.
Any words of wisdom for dads-to-be?
By no means do I think I’ve done everything as a parent perfectly, we all make mistakes but sometimes along the way I wished I had been given advice that might have swayed some of my decisions. I said this once to my Dad who then added “Well Dean the advice was always there it’s just you chose to ignore it”. I had never really thought of it like that but on reflection, the advice and answers to the majority of all of our problems is usually right in front of us, we just choose to follow our own path.
When it comes to parenting, I remember being told before Indiana was born that there isn’t a parenting handbook and you just have to wing it… I thought this sounded crazy at the time but looking back I realise that pretty much sums up parenting.
I think my advice to any new or expecting parents is to not beat yourself up about anything. To go with the flow and trust your gut. To trust that every single child is different. I’d advice to reach out for help as it’s daunting to bring a new life into the world.
Finally, what advice would you give fellow dadbosses?
It would be to believe in yourself and contribute. I think fathers often play a secondary role, almost shying away from the responsibility of the decision-making in families as we are often told that mum knows best.
Trust in your own instincts too. I’ve found you need to work as a team, back each other up even if you’re not with your child’s mother. As a single dad, I’ve found it incredibly important to maintain a great relationship with Indie’s mum- we help and support one another. Most of all, it’s about showing respect and setting a great example to our little one.