LIFE has been a whirlwind for Jane Devonshire since being crowned the winner of Masterchef in May this year.

After wowing judges Gregg Wallace and John Torode with her chilli lobster with a sweetcorn and popcorn panna cotta that she dreamt up in the middle of the night, the former stay-at-home mother now tours the country sharing her tips and secrets for cooking homely and traditional dishes with an inventive twist.

She will be cooking live and answering audience questions at the Foodies Festival in Alexandra Palace this Bank Holiday weekend and will be joined by chefs from some of London's top restaurants including The Cinnamon Club in Westminster and Darbaar in Shoreditch.

The 50-year-old mother of four, who lives in Hampshire, reveals what culinary delights people can expect her to make during her slot at Ally Pally.

Jane says: "I will be cooking in the Chef's Theatre and am planning to do a lamb meatball dish stuffed with feta cheese on a Mediterranean vegetable stew.

"It is a simple family friendly dish with unusual flavours that people can try at home. I've had quite a lot of feedback from people saying that it is easy to do, so hopefully people will try it themselves and enjoy it.

"I'll be involved in the whole food fair while I'm there so will wander round and talk to people about food and I'm also looking forward to seeing what is on offer with the street food.

"I have visited Alexandra Palace before but it was ages ago when I was a child, as I grew up in Hammersmith, but I haven't been since I was about 12-years-old. I imagine it has changed over the years so I'm looking forward to going back, as I think it will be great to see how it is now."

Jane has been enjoying a busy schedule over the past few months but during the warmer weather, she has still made time for practising her favourite summer recipes.

She says: "Over the summer months I like to cook what most other people like to cook. I like to make lots of light dishes with different salads and of course have also been doing a lot of barbecuing with fresh potatoes, runner beans and carrots. It is such a lovely time of year to eat, isn't it?"

Jane admits the past year still hasn't fully sunk in yet after she only entered the BBC competition on a whim and was encouraged by her children, Sam, 23, Rebecca, 21, Harry, 17, and Ben, who is 13-years-old.

She explains: "Winning Masterchef was the weirdest feeling, as I never expected to win and knew how good the other finalists were even in the early stages of the competition. It was a complete surprise and a wonderful experience that is only sinking in now.

"It was a massive emotional rollercoaster for everyone involved, we all became very good friends and some of the things we did like going to Mexico were absolutely amazing, I can't even explain it, I keep thinking I might wake up one day and discover it hasn't happened!

"The only nightmare I had during the competition was was a trout dish that I cook all the time, as my husband loves to eat trout and so I always have loads to use up. It was a dish I wasn't worried about but it went horribly wrong and I honestly thought I was going home that day but luckily, it didn't cost me my place.

"On the other hand, my favourite dish to cook that made people take notice of me was definitely chilli lobster with a sweetcorn and popcorn panna cotta. My final three dishes were so personal and were based on my childhood memories, so it meant a lot that people appreciated them."

Jane admits she wasn't taught to cook while she was growing up and instead observed the skills of her mother and grandmother - who she affectionately calls nanny.

She says: "Cooking was a passion when I was growing up, but as a child I would just stand there and chop vegetables or help out with my nanny and my mum, who were always cooking traditional foods like roast dinners and pies.

"I don't think I cooked a meal from scratch until I left home but somehow knew how to just do it from watching others.

"I want to keep on spreading the word about my cooking and after my visit to Alexandra Palace I will do more food shows because I love it. Meeting new people and chatting to them about food and passing on my tips is all part of the joy of winning Masterchef."

Foodies Festival, Alexandra Palace Park, Wood Green, N22 7AY, Saturday August 27 to Monday August 29. Details:

Try Jane's Lamb Meatballs with Feta and a Mediterranean Vegetable Stew:

Serves 4

Prep Time 20 minutes

Cooking Time 30 minutes


500g pack of minced lamb

Feta cheese you need about a 1/3 of a pack cut into 12 cubes about 1.5cm (substitute goat's cheese or mozzarella if you prefer)

1 large red onion (250g)

1 medium aubergine

1 red pepper

8 large green olives no stones 

1 courgette

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 pack (28g) flat leaf parsley

1 egg

5 cloves garlic

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1.5 tbsp dried oregano

200ml vegetable stock or water

Salt and black pepper

2 tbsp olive oil Sunflower oil for frying meatballs, depends on size of your pan should come halfway up the meatball


Finely chop the red onion and 2 cloves of garlic

Get a plate ready to put the meatballs on when you have made them

Chop cheese into 12 chunks approximately 1.5cm

Put the lamb mince, half the red onion, 2 cloves finely chopped garlic, oregano, egg and salt and pepper into a large bowl and mix thoroughly. I use my hands as I find it the easiest way to thoroughly combine the ingredients

Divide the mixture into 12 equal portions, I do this by flattening in the bowl and divide it like a pizza.

Take one of the portions of mince and flatten it in your hand and make a well in the centre.

Put in one of the feta portions and roll the mince around it to make a nice even meatball, make sure all the cheese is covered.

Once you have completed all 12 meatballs cover with film and put into the fridge.

Chop the aubergine into 1.5cm dice and then put into a bowl of cold water. The aubergine will soak up the water and then expel it when cooked.

Chop your courgette and red pepper into equal sized pieces about 1.5cm.

Finely chop your remaining 3 garlic cloves. Finely chop the flat leaf parsley and discard the stalks. Roughly chop the green olives.

Put the olive oil into a frying pan and add the drained aubergine to the oil. Fry off until starting to go golden in colour.

Then add the remaining half chopped red onion, courgette, red pepper, tin of tomatoes, 90 per cent of the flat leaf parsley, chopped garlic, olives and the white wine vinegar and water. Add all the remaining ingredients with the exception of some flat leaf parsley to dress the dish at the end.

Leave this mixture to simmer for 20-30 minutes you want the vegetables to still have a bite but to be cooked through and combined in the sauce.

Take another pan and put sunflower oil in until it comes about half way up a meatball. I use a heavy bottom pan with quite high sides as deep frying.

Test the oil with a little of the lamb mixture if it sinks then comes to the top of the oil sizzling it’s the right heat. Not smoking that will burn the meat on the outside and be raw in the middle.

Fry off the meatballs in batches, draining on kitchen paper as you finish. The meatballs should feel firm when pressed and golden brown in colour.

Serve the meatballs on a good helping of the Mediterranean vegetable stew and sprinkle with the remaining chopped parsley.

I like to serve this with simple sauteed potatoes dressed with black pepper and salt.