MasterChef Judge Gregg Wallace has the recipe for the Perfect Wedding
‘Heidi makes Gregg Wallace of MasterChef so happy and they love each other deeply’ John Torode
As you’d expect from a man famous for his appreciation of good food, when genial MasterChef host and judge Gregg Wallace married his stunning fiancée Heidi Brown earlier this month, their guests were treated to a banquet fit for a king.
The couple met in 2009 via Twitter, the networking site where people leave short “tweets” about what they are doing, after Heidi cheekily dropped Gregg Wallace a line asking him what he thought about a magazine labelling him a “weird crush”.
With 85 of their closest family and friends gathering at the luxurious Coworth Park hotel in Ascot, Berkshire, for a day of fine dining, moving speeches and plenty of laughter, all the right ingredients were there for the perfect wedding.
They chose Coworth Park because of the unique culinary skills of its executive head chef John Campbell, whose creativity has earned him the title “the cerebral chef”.
John devised a sublime menu, cleverly crafted to pay tribute to MasterChef Gregg Wallace’s barrow-boy roots.
Gregg and Heidi enjoyed a whirlwind romance after meeting through Twitter, with Heidi moving into Gregg’s Kent home just four months after first making contact with the MasterChef host. “To see that big smile on Gregg’s face at the end of the ceremony was lovely,” said fellow MasterChef judge John Torode
“The food was obviously a really important part of the day, and John’s food is so clever, so light and so tasty,” said former greengrocer MasterChef Gregg Wallace, 46.
Among the guests were John Torode and Michel Roux Jr, Gregg’s co-hosts on MasterChef and MasterChef: The Professionals respectively.
“I remember when Gregg first got a tweet from Heidi saying, ‘Okay, let’s meet up.’ He was so hyper,” Michel recalled fondly. “When he came in the next day, we knew it was special.
“You could not wish to meet a kinder, more genuine man than Gregg, and Heidi is a gorgeous lady, inside and out. She has brought stability to Gregg’s life, and I am so delighted for them.”
John Torode told HELLO! how former biology teacher Heidi, 28. had tamed” his friend and fellow judge: “There’s this serenity about him when he knows he’s going home to Heidi. She makes him so happy and they lose each other deeply.”
Gregg waits for his bride as Heidi’s proud father Ray walks his only daughter up the aisle in Coworth Park hotel to gasps of admiration from the guests. “She’s the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen,” said Gregg (right, signing the register with his new wife)
KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY
Breaking with tradition, the happy couple spent the night before their big day together.
“We hate being apart and I knew Gregg wouldn’t sleep if l wasn’t there,” said Heidi, who quit her teaching job in Cumbria to live with Gregg and his children in their home near Whitstable, Kent, just four months after meeting.
“We needed each other more than ever that night,” she said.
‘MY PROUDEST LINE WAS, “THIS IS MY GIRLFRIEND.” TODAY, EVERYONE, “THIS IS MY WIFE”
They spent the night in the Dower House, a cottage in the grounds of Coworth Park, a Georgian manor house 01) the borders of Windsor Great Park. Gregg’s children from his second marriage – Tom, 16, and Libby, 14- stayed, too.
“Tom and Libby already call me their step mum, and we’re so close, but I think it will mean a lot to them when it’s all signed, sealed and proper, and we all have the same surname. They’re such great kids and I love them so much.”
“As good a job as I was doing on my own,” said Gregg, who has sole custody of the children, “my kids were crying out for a mother figure, and when I met Heidi, they fell in love with het just as I did.”
Heidi’s favourite flowers, freesias, formed the jumping off point for the bouquet and wedding decorations and filled the room with a divine perfume (above). The couple gave each other simple wedding rings from jewellers Beaverbrooks. Heidi’s platinum band sits alongside her pretty engagement ring (bottom left), which Gregg surprised her with in 2009 when he proposed on bended knee
‘The impact she has had on them has been incredible. It’s thanks to her that they’re doing well at school and that they now visit their mum. Heidi’s the strength behind our little family and she’s brought so much happiness into all our lives.”
Tom, a keen rugby player like his dad, was usher on the big day, while the role of best man fell to Vernon Mascarenhas, Gregg’s great friend of 20 years and his business partner in their London café Wallace & Co and restaurant supply business Secrett’s Direct.
‘HEIDI’S THE STRENGTH BEHIND OUR FAMILY AND SHE’S BROUGHT US ALL SO MUCH HAPPINESS’
Bucking tradition, MasterChef Gregg Wallace devised a “cake” was made up of tiers of their favourite lemon meringue pie, carrot cake and Bauenburg (above). Famed for his sweet tooth, and allowed a day off from his healthy eating plan, MasterChef Gregg Wallace tucks into a mini meringue pie, watched by his wife (right)
Libby was thrilled to act as bridesmaid, along with Bex French, Heidi’s best friend from school, who recently revealed to MasterChef Gregg Wallace that his wife-to-be had told her after their first date that she was going to marry him. I’m so pleased she was right, because I’ve never seen her happier,” said Bex.
Or more beautiful, for when the guests first set eyes on Heidi in her bridal gown, there were gasps of admiration. Entering the room on the arm of her dad Ray, she really did look like a princess in her exquisite Suzanne Neville ivory corseted lace-and- taffeta gown, a pair of jewelled Jimmy Choo satin heels twinkling on her feet.
Just before the ceremony, HELLO! asked Gregg — who scrubbed up pretty well himself, in a traditional morning suit and ivory brocade waistcoat from Kent outfitters Rogers Menswear — how he imagined his bride might look. “All I can see when I try to picture her are her huge brown eyes, that beautiful long, graceful neck of hers and lot.; of white,” he said, adding with a laugh: “And, of course, me looking up!”
When Heidi walked into the room, the sight of her took his breath away, and it wasn’t long before both he and Heidi were reaching for the tissues.
Having family and friends share their special day meant the world to the happy couple. “To be surrounded by the people we love and care about and see them so happy for us was wonderful said MasterChef Gregg Wallace. Joining the newlyweds were (above, from left) TV personalities John Torode, Michel Roux Jr and Andi Peters, and (below) their family on both sides, including Gregg’s children Libby, 14, who was a bridesmaid, and Tom, 16, who was an usher. Right Gregg with Tom and his great friend and business partner Vernon Mascarenhas, who was best man
‘When she walked in, she gave me that look she gives me that is so full of love, but also of concern — she’s checking I’m okay,” MasterChef Gregg Wallace told us later. “it’s a tenderness I’ve never known before.”
“I could see Gregg was nervous and emotional,” said Heidi. “My dad had to hold me back because I just wanted to get to him, to reassure him.”
The service was performed by local registrar Clair Williams, who officiated at the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles and conducted the civil partnership ceremony of Sir Elton John and David Furnish.
It included a reading of the song I Will & Here by American singer- songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman, which includes the line: if in the dark we lose sight of love, hold my hand and have no fear ‘cause I will be here.”
“What I’ve learned through being with Heidi is that I never have to be afraid to tell her I’m unsure, frightened or concerned about anything, and that’s been so liberating for me,” said MasterChef Gregg Wallace. “She’s so smart and wise and capable. I didn’t know women like her existed, especially not in such gorgeous wrapping.”
Once they were declared man and wife, Gregg and Heidi signed the register, with Van Morrison’s ballad Have I Told You Lately playing in the background. Then, as they left the ceremony, the tempo skyrocketed with Starland Vocal Band’s 1970s hit Afteroon Delight.
“It’s a song we sing at home,” giggled MasterChef Gregg.
THE FOOD OF LOVE
Guests were then treated to a champagne reception, with an assortment of inspired canapés, including a bite-sized twist on Gregg’s nan’s roast lamb, the groom’s all-time favourite dish, which on this occasion comprised a hollowed-out roast potato filled with root vegetable purée, roast lamb fat powder and mint sauce pearls.
As the guests mingled, HELLO! caught up again with John Torode, who had been moved by the service: “For Gregg to be so sincere with his emotions and to see that big smile on his face at the end of the ceremony, that was lovely. He’s so happy.”
TV personality and former children’s TV presenter Andi Peters got to know Gregg when he appeared in the third series of Celebrity MasterChef “Gregg liked my food and anyone who likes my food is a friend in my book,” said Andi “I got to know Heidi, too, and the thing I love about them as a couple is that they laugh a lot. And, as an old romantic, I find the story of how they met so lovely. They’ll be amazing together.”
‘We loved every single moment of it. It’s a day we’ll never forget’ MasterChef Gregg Wallace.
In honour of his London roots, Gregg finishes the party with a kebab, and even top chef Michel can’t turn one down. Helping Gregg behind the counter is hotel executive head chef John Campbell (far left) John Torode also gets to chow down on the perfect post-party snack (below right)
Breaking with tradition again, the newlyweds kicked off the wedding breakfast with the speeches. Heidi’s dad warmly welcomed Gregg, Libby and Tom into the family and spoke of his pride at seeing his daughter so happy. Best man Vernon reflected on his and Gregg’s strong bond, bringing the house down when he concluded: “One of us got the brains and the looks, the other got to be on TV.”
The groom recounted the story of how he’d met Heidi on Twitter and how, once they’d started dating, she would spend seven hours driving 350 miles every Friday to spend the weekend with him and his children.
“Why do I love her? Well, obviously she’s the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen, but that isn’t even a little bit of it,” said MasterChef Gregg Wallace, his voice breaking with emotion. “Heidi, you’re brilliantly clever, you’re funny, you’re wise. You are the reason I rush home after work. My proudest line used to be, ‘This is my girlfriend.’ Today, everyone, ‘This is my wife.”
It was then time to tuck into the five-course feast of braised oxtail with puréed parsnip, posh fish and chips featuring beer-battered cod and tempura-battered lobster, and a main dish of roast beef. There were two desserts, one named Oranges and Lemons, which comprised lemon pannacotta, orange segments and shortbread, and another called Apples and Pears, which comprised tarte tatin, poached pear, vanilla ice cream, vanilla jelly, chocolate crumbs and a chocolate sauce. Even then, though, the eating wasn’t over. Instead of having a traditional wedding cake, chef John Campbell created an elaborate tower featuring the newlyweds’ three favourite cakes — Battenburg, carrot cake and lemon meringue pie.
“Now that is what I call a cake!” announced pud-loving MasterChef Gregg Wallace.
Thanks to Heidi’s influence, Gregg has lost five-and-a-half inches from his waist in the past 18 months and reduced his cholesterol level from a scary 13.8 to a healthy 3.7.
Soon after I met Heidi she said to me, ‘I like you a lot, so would you mind not dying please.’ And she’s helped and encouraged me to exercise and develop a more healthy diet,” said MasterChef Gregg Wallace.
Is she strict?
‘Strict? Two weeks on holiday with Heidi is like two weeks at a Betty Ford clinic! But with cudd1es” joked Gregg.
But Heidi did allow him a day off on their wedding day, and there was one final gastronomic treat As guests prepared to leave, parked up outside the hotel was a kebab van. “I’m a blue- collar Londoner and that’s what we do after a party — we have a kebab!” laughed MasterChef Gregg Wallace.
The couple are now honeymooning at the Royal Palm hotel in Mauritius, before Gregg returns to promote the new series of MasterChef which starts on BBC1 in February.
“Every bride wants her wedding day to be perfect and it was. It was magical,” said the new Mrs Wallace.
“To be surrounded by the people we love and care about, and see them so happy for us was wonderful,” reflected Gregg. “We loved every single moment of it. It’s a day we’ll never forget.”
INTERVIEW: BELINDA ROBEY
PHOTOS: IAN JONES
CREDIT: HELLO MAGAZINE | MASTERCHEF GREGG WALLACE WEDDING
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