Viewers filled with nostalgia as Ready Steady Cook returns with new host Rylan Clark-Neal

Are you Team Green Pepper or Red Tomato?

What’s for dinner today, Britain? The popular cookery show Ready Steady Cook, where contestants and chefs have to create delicious dishes against the clock, was back on BBC1 (2 March) after 10 years.

Some of the format hasn’t changed much since its origins in the 1990s. The guests are divided into teams named ‘green pepper’ and ‘red tomato’, and are asked to bring in a bagful of ingredients that they want to cook. However, this time round there’s a brand new host, Rylan Clark-Neal, plus some new professional cooks.

Rylan couldn’t contain his excitement at the start of the series, posting on Twitter.

The first two competitors on the first episode were Gemma and Brian, a real-life couple from Falkirlk.

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Brian was the cook in the family. “He’s great, very imaginative, can fling anything together,” said Gemma. What a catch!

But Brian revealed Gemma was “absolutely awful” and she agreed she wasn’t as skilled as her partner. But she did have one particular speciality.

“Cheesy beano was the first thing I ever learnt,” she said. Rylan wasn’t impressed as Gemma explained and said: “Basically that beans on toast with cheese.”

“But there is a special way of cooking it!” she laughed.

Gemma, who was wearing the green pepper apron, was paired with chef Mike Reid.  He’s a gastronomic globetrotter who spends half the year in Australia.

Gemma was given a budget of £7.50 and chose a mix of familiar foods – beef mince, cream cheese and her favourite fruit strawberries – plus some more unusual items such as plantain and butternut squash that she’d never eaten before.

Plantain, strawberries, cream cheese, butternut squash and beef mince – what on earth can you make with that? (Credit: BBC)

For somebody who doesn’t cook, Gemma’s choices was certainly ambitious!

Mike suggested a beef curry, putting all the spices including sumac, cinnamon, turmeric in the rice. There would be more spicy squash as a side dish and a strawberry cheesecake to finish. All of that with just 20 minutes!

Chef Mike teaches contestant Gemma how to cook under pressure (Credit: BBC)

Brian was paired with Irish chef Anna Haugh, who has worked in some of the best restaurants in the world.

Brian’s £7.50 was spent on crab, a tin of chickpeas, courgettes, and two types of leafy greens, spinach and cavolo nero.

Spinach, cavolo nero, a tin of chickpeas, courgettes and crab were in Brian’s £7.50 budget basket (Credit: BBC)

Anna’s menu included a courgette and basil velouté (that’s a posh word for smooth soup, Rylan told us), a big blini (like a pancake) with crab, a parcel made from strips of courgette with crab, greens and parmesan inside.

Both of the teams were also allowed to use anything they could find in the Ready Steady Cook pantry, such as milk, biscuits, eggs, cheese, flour, herbs and spices. That was the rule on the original series, and one wag on Twitter commented that it didn’t seem entirely fair…

“Your budget is £7.50” … *goes on to add another £10 of ingredients* #ReadySteadyCook

As if the first challenge wasn’t hard enough, the chefs then had to create some meals from random foodstuff written on cards held up by the Ready Steady Cook audience.

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Some of them would not even have been available in supermarkets back in the 1990s and 200s when Fern Britton and Ainsley Harriott were the hosts of the show, such as halloumi, olive tapenade, capers and venison sausages.

Interesting ingredients, just not to be eaten all at the same time! (Credit: BBC)

Viewers loved the first episode of this revamp, especially as it brought back so many happy memories.

This isn’t the first programme from the 1990s that Rylan has been a part of resurrecting. He’s also the host of Channel 5’s new version of Supermarket Sweep.

Ready Steady Cook continues today on BBC1 at 4.30pm.

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