Tana Ramsay exclusive interview

Gordon may be the star, but Tana Ramsay, our Celebrity Mum of the Year, is the heart of their family. Cookbook author, Dancing On Ice star and tireless charity fundraiser, she’s gets her inspiration from her four children

I’m married to a chef but I do most of the cooking at home. Gordon may well
spend most of his day in the kitchen being creative but when he’s here he just wants
simple food.

I grew up on a farm in Kent with my mum, dad, two brothers and sister. We had every animal you could imagine and my mum made everything on our dinner table, from the butter to the wine. I can remember her being up three or four times in the night during the lambing season. It was an idyllic childhood but I wouldn’t want to do what my mum did. It’s too hard.

Gordon worked long hours and I was on my own with four kids under the age of five. It was chaos and I’d often do the school run with sick down my top

When I had children I started cooking.
It was important to me to make everything from scratch, and I was lucky enough to be at home as a full-time mum. Gordon sometimes does give me tips for my cookery books and I always run my recipes by him, but I test them out on the kids’ school friends. They’re my
harshest critics but also my best. Kids speak the truth.

Before we had kids I was a teacher and loved it but I gave up working just before Megan was born. Gordon was setting up his first restaurant and we couldn’t afford a nanny, so it was a given I’d stay at home. It’s true he’s never changed a nappy but Gordon was doing his thing with the business. We took on traditional roles and it worked for us. I decided to get back into the world of adult conversation when Tilly was 15-months-old.

Being a mum is all about making sure you’ve got towels that are all white and fluffy, or that’s what I imagined. I soon found out the reality wasn’t like that. Gordon worked very long hours and I was on my own with four kids under the age of five. It was chaos and I’d often do the school run with sick down my top.

Certainly I’m no domestic goddess. For me the most challenging period was when all of the children got chicken pox a week apart. But I like to think of those

Tana Ramsay

times as very real and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

You’ve got to be strict and have a routine if you have kids so close together – Megan’s 12, twins Jack and Holly are 10 and Matilda’s eight. Really it’s the only way to get through it. And putting in the hard work in those early years pays off later. Now I can take them anywhere and know that I can trust them to behave. My teacher training helps and one thing I learned early on is the importance of kids being independent. All our children can load the dishwasher and make their own beds.

Gordon is the best daddy ever. He’s at his most relaxed when he’s lying on the floor with our four kids crawling on him, or at the side of the football pitch. Being with the kids is his complete downtime and when they have friends over he’s like the Pied Piper of Hamelin. They all go running out into the garden to play together. Gordon’s amazing with them and I think he finds it harder than ever when he goes away for work. He hates not having the kids there with him.

He never swears at home. Why would he? What you see on TV is Gordon when he’s at work in a stressful situation. Home is his relaxation and safe place.

I didn’t like Gordon when I first met him. He was 26 and I was 18. I was engaged to one of his best friends, Tim. After we split up I got to know Gordon better and he grew on me. We knew fairly quickly it was quite serious but we trod carefully. He proposed to me the following summer in Florida, next to a lagoon where dolphins swam, and we married a year later.

We drive each other crazy but we banter and laugh a lot about things. Gordon is incredibly supportive of everything I do and when I doubt myself he pushes me.

It’s such an honour to be Tesco magazine’s Celebrity Mum of the Year. I try to help where I can to raise money for charity. I think it’s important to do something that’s outside of your normal life. I started running marathons after Tilly was born and last year I did an event called Hell Runner – it’s a half marathon on a military ground, where you have to run through muddy bogs that look like vats of Guinness. It’s freezing but brilliant.

At the age of 18 I was very ill with meningitis. It started with a headache but a few days later I felt pins and needles creeping from my feet up my body and I blacked out. My parents rushed me to hospital and I was in a coma for 24 hours. I was incredibly lucky but the experience was terrifying. As a mum, my biggest fear is that the same thing could happen to one of my children, which is why I’m also patron of the Meningitis Trust.

When I get the chance to get away my favourite holiday destination at the moment is the US. Gordon and I both took August off last year and we rented the most incredible house in Malibu. We try to catch up with the Beckhams while we’re in Los Angeles. The kids are great friends and we always pick up where we left off with David and Victoria. They’re a lovely couple – a very normal mum and dad and the most hands-on parents.

I’m broody for another baby and Gordon would love another one. But I’d feel such guilt that I wasn’t giving baby number five as much time as I gave the first four. I’m 35 now but if I still feel like this in a few years time, well, never say never.

Tana’s Kitchen Secrets, £19·99, published by Mitchell Beazley, is also available on www.tesco.com/books.

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