At 83, TV presenter, cookbook writer and baking guru Mary Berry is still a force to be reckoned with.
In this Q&A, she tells us about everything from the best advice she’s ever received, to how to channel inner confidence.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
My husband Paul always tells me, “Don’t put off what you could do today until tomorrow.” He says it whenever I say I’ll do something later. He tells me to do it now and he’s absolutely right.
Your earliest cooking memory?
A domestic science lesson with my teacher, Miss Date. I made a treacle pudding, which I brought home, and my father said, “It’s as good as your mom’s.”
Miss Date was knee-high to a grasshopper, round and jolly and very knowledgeable. I loved every lesson because she was patient and gave praise. We kept in touch through her life.
What is the best decision you’ve ever made?
To follow my dreams, and to do what I enjoy.
And the worst?
I think that one conveniently forgets bad decisions…
What’s your greatest fear?
Losing any of my family [The second of Mary’s three children, William, died in a car crash at age 19].
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
To me, a dream dinner has to be with my friends and family – my children and grandchildren. I have no ambition to dine with a prime minister or anything like that.
What is your biggest pet hate?
Lateness. I’m one of those people who is always early. Fortunately, Paul is the same. We’re always likely to be sitting outside a shop waiting for it to open.
Your favourite ever fashion item?
The sparkly, pinkish dress I wore to the BAFTAs in 2016. It’s by designer Adrianna Papell and I love it.
Have you ever made a fashion faux pas?
For me, a fashion faux pas is if I wear trousers that are too short in the winter. They look fine in summer with sandals, but in winter I look hideous with a trouser-shoe gap!
What is your confidence trick?
Two things: being prepared and dressing the part. It’s a matter of doing your homework, whether that’s knowing where you’re going or researching ahead of a meeting. In terms of dressing for confidence, a good pair of trousers and heels does the trick for me.
How do you relax?
I enjoy walks and playing tennis – badly! I play with the same four friends and, really, it’s about friendship rather than tennis.
What has been your most extravagant purchase?
Recently, it was a bespoke greenhouse. At the moment, it’s empty, but I can’t wait to get going in it, growing tomatoes and cucumbers.
And your most treasured possession?
A Valentine’s card William drew of him and his two siblings as little elephants in different sizes. I’ve always kept that.
Your most important life lesson?
What you put into life is what you get out.
The secret to a happy relationship?
Respect, sincerity and fairness.
Classic Mary Berry airs every Tuesday at 7.55pm on BBC Lifestyle, DStv channel 174.
- By featured editor Stephanie van der Plank