Paul Rankin changed the face of culinary Northern Ireland when he opened Roscoff, the restaurant that was to become the first to win a Michelin Star in the country. Soon after opening, it became the favourite meeting place for the Belfast business and arts community, and people travelled from Dublin simply to experience what was considered to be the best cooking in Northern Ireland at the time.
Paul is best known for being one of the longest standing and most successful chefs on Ready Steady Cook which regularly pulled in nearly 3 million viewers. Since 2011 Paul has presented three series of Paul and Nick’s Big Food Trip, with fellow chef Nick Nairn, traveling around the coasts of Northern Ireland and Scotland by boat to explore their Ulster-Scots culinary heritage. The third series was filmed in the USA, following the trail of Ulster-Scots settlers who sailed to the New World three hundred years ago. Paul and Nick’s Big American Food Trip was shown on UTV and STV in 2015 as well as internationally including on Asian Food Channel and Canada’s GustoTV. Series 4 is aired in March 2016 on UTV in Northern Ireland and STV in Scotland.
Sean Wilson is best known for his 21 years starring in the national flagship soap, Coronation Street.
Since 2005, Sean has followed his passion into the world of food and cheese, where he has created his own range of multi-award winning Lancashire cheeses and worked in Michelin star restaurants.
Completely self-taught, Sean has been a serious cook for over 30 years. Over the past five years this natural confidence in the kitchen has led Sean to the world of food festivals where he has delighted thousands with everything from fine dining and food trends through to more rustic, heritage and provincial style dishes. His ability to cook, entertain and inspire also make Sean a popular after dinner speaker and host for corporate and private dining experiences.
Sean’s Saddleworth Cheese Company creates six artisanal cheeses, with provenance as their byword, celebrating Lancashire. All have been British Cheese Award favourites over the years with Gold medals both nationally and internationally and 36 international awards to date, where they are becoming known as territorial cheeses of fine quality.
Sophie was born in London and grew up in Suffolk. After gaining a Bachelors degree from Manchester and Masters degree from Toulouse, both in Psychology, she was selected to attend the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. She commissioned as an Officer in the Royal Artillery where she served all over the world, including Afghanistan.
After leaving the Regular Army, she worked as a surveillance consultant, personal trainer and Alpine ski touring instructor before applying for The Great British Bake Off.
As well as her passion for baking, Sophie also loves sport. She has previously held National Age-group titles in both Rowing and Track Cycling. She enjoys keeping fit and is also currently training for the stunt register.
Sophie specialises in celebration cakes, chocolaterie and fine patisserie and has an interest in alternative grains, sugar-free baking and performance foods.
Koj is a British-Japanese chef based in the Cotswolds. After reaching the pinnacle of amateur cooking success in the final of MasterChef 2012, he turned professional after a fast track training programme in Michelin starred kitchens across the UK and Europe, before specialising in Japanese cuisine where his heart and heritage lie.
One of the most naturally talented and imaginative private chefs in the UK, he has cooked Japanese style food for The Queen, sports stars, supermodels and Hollywood royalty. He teaches, promotes and demonstates Japanese cookery through pop ups, cookery schools and food festivals around the UK. He writes a monthly column in Crumbs Magazine and has contributed to Spear’s and Cotswold Life. He is a judge of both the Great Taste Awards and the World Cheese Awards.
Having spent a lifetime in the hotel and catering industry, Yorkshire born and bred Nigel has worked at some of the UK’s biggest and busiest hotels. He also spent time overseas at the highly acclaimed French cookery school Ecole Le Notre where he picked up a wealth of experience and knowledge in areas of specialist patisserie work.
In 2007 Nigel filmed and produced a set of three cookery DVDs and launched his fabulous cookery school, The Nigel Brown Cookery Academy. In between running courses at his cookery academy, Nigel regularly demonstrates at top food festivals and events throughout the UK. Amongst some of his more memorable achievements he was featured in a celebrity chef calendar (with his clothes on!) and has catered for Nelson Mandela, Princess Anne and also became a regular recipe columnist and the resident celebrity chef for The Lady Magazine online. With an unrivalled passion for sharing his wealth of expertise in the world of good food Nigel’s first cookery book (NB. HOW TO COOK) was published in October 2015, within eight weeks of being published his cookbook won the prestigious award of being crowned as “The Best Cookery School Cookbook in the UK 2016” in the Gourmand World Cookbook Award.
Jill is a talented Home Economist, recipe developer and Food Stylist who is well known for her fresh approach, creative flair and wealth of experience.
Growing up in the North East of England, Jill was introduced to traditional home cooking at an early age; she developed a life-long interest in food and this passion for cooking led Jill into a career as a Home Economist. After studying at Sheffield Hallam University, Jill developed her skills and expertise whist working in the food Industry for many years and her work now involves developing recipes, styling food for cookbooks, advertisements and food packaging.
Based in the North East, Jill works throughout the UK performing live cookery demonstrations, creating and writing recipes and supporting well known TV chefs on television cookery shows and at food festivals.