Queen of desserts Louise now preaching gospel of good health
After eight years of thrills and spills in the celebrity kitchen, star of The Restaurant Louise Lennox still has a hearty appetite for the show which made her famous.
The Dublin chef and pastry specialist has wrapped up filming on the latest series of the programme, and while there have been plenty of scary moments on the dessert station down through the years, Louise is always kept entertained during filming.
A new season of The Restaurant - where a celebrity chef enters the kitchen each week to make a three-course meal they hope will impress a panel of critics - will hit TV3 screens in February.
"Gerald Kean has to be my all-time favourite," Louise said of the boisterous solicitor to the stars.
"He is so theatrical and he even invited us all out to his home in Wicklow to cook us a huge meal, which has never happened before," Louise told the Sunday Independent.
"Actor Simon Delaney was also great. We did a Christmas special with him and he made me laugh so much that the eyelashes I was wearing fell off," recalled the Dundrum native.
"I was making a banoffee cheesecake with him and I had to be told to stop laughing. He was very funny and didn't take himself too seriously."
The 2016 series of the foodie programme was filmed in chef Marco Pierre White's restaurant in Donnybrook, and the British chef will also feature as a full-time critic on the show.
"He's so tall that I don't even reach his armpit, he's like a scary giant," laughed Louise.
"He is amazing and has the most unbelievable food knowledge, but unfortunately for me he doesn't have a sweet tooth because he is more into cheese for dessert," added the pretty brunette.
Next year's series will feature a new batch of celebrity chefs, including model turned beauty blogger Pippa O'Connor. Louise was very impressed with the young mum's skills in the kitchen.
"I got on really well with Pippa - she really loved cooking desserts and I told her I would swap cooking tips for make-up contouring tips."
Louise, mum to two-year-old son Alex, will make the move to the business side of cooking as she prepares to launch her own food network for children with business partner Aisling Larkin, after the pair won a female entrepreneurial grant with Enterprise Ireland and Dublin Business Innovation Centre.
The food network will operate via a social media platform and a specialised schools programme targeted at teaching Irish children all about cooking healthy food and basic nutrition.
Louise and Aisling chose two primary schools in Greystones and Dublin's Rutland Street to road test their idea and it proved a huge success among the children as well as their parents and teachers.
"We were teaching 50 children how to cook a quinoa black bean burger one day and I'd say 48 of them really enjoyed it and said they would definitely eat it again," Louise told the Sunday Independent.
"It has always been my belief that cooking, food and nutrition should be viewed as equal to core subjects like English and maths," she said. "I think it's awful that children are leaving school without that life skill; you are what you eat and people are getting bigger and unhealthier."
Louise says her own sweet tooth simply "comes with the territory" as a pastry chef, but cooking duties over the holidays are shared with her husband, broadcaster Gordon Hayden.