Mary Berry’s Festive Feasts: Dame Merry Berry knows a thing or two about cooking up a festive feast, and this year she is sharing her cooking skills with three novice cooks, cousins James, Jack and Leah, who want to throw a spectacular surprise feast for their respective mums and bring together their whole family for the first time in two years. With Mary’s help, can they pull it off and give their mums a Christmas surprise they will never forget?
Mary has also enlisted the help of Alex Jones and Patrick Grant. While Mary focuses on getting the novice cooks up to speed in the kitchen, Patrick and Alex oversee the extras that will make this Christmas reunion special. They are also on hand to offer moral support when temperatures rise in the kitchen.
Mary Berry’s Festive Feasts
Dame Mary Rosa Alleyne Hunnings, known professionally as Mary Berry, is an English food writer, chef, baker and television presenter. After being encouraged in domestic science classes at school, she studied catering and shipping management at college. She then moved to France at the age of 22 to study at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, before working in a number of cooking-related jobs.
She has published more than 75 cookery books, including her best-selling Baking Bible in 2009. Her first book was The Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook in 1970. She hosted several television series for the BBC and Thames Television. Berry is an occasional contributor to Woman’s Hour and Saturday Kitchen. She was a judge on the BBC One (originally BBC Two) television programme The Great British Bake Off from its launch in 2010 until 2016, when it relocated to Channel 4.
Berry’s first job was at the Bath Electricity Board showroom and then conducting home visits to show new customers how to use their electric ovens. She would typically demonstrate the ovens by making a Victoria sponge, a technique she would later repeat when in television studios to test out an oven she had not used before. Her catchment area for demonstrations was limited to the greater Bath area, which she drove around in a Ford Popular supplied as a company car.
Her ambition was to move out of the family home to London, which her parents would not allow until she was 21. At the age of 22, she applied to work at the Dutch Dairy Bureau, while taking City & Guilds courses in the evenings. She then persuaded her manager to pay for her to undertake the professional qualification from the French Le Cordon Bleu school.
She left the Dutch Dairy Bureau to become a recipe tester for PR firm Benson’s, where she began to write her first book. She has since cooked for a range of food-related bodies, including the Egg Council and the Flour Advisory Board. In 1966 she became food editor of Housewife magazine. She was food editor of Ideal Home magazine from 1970 to 1973.
Her first cookbook, The Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook, was published in 1970. She launched her own product range in 1994 with her daughter Annabel. The salad dressings and sauces were originally only sold at Mary’s AGA cooking school, but have since been sold in Britain, Germany and Ireland with retailers such as Harrods, Fortnum & Mason and Tesco.
She has also appeared on a BBC Two series called The Great British Food Revival, and her solo show, Mary Berry Cooks, began airing on 3 March 2014.