MasterChef Presenter Gregg Wallace

150 150 Rob McGibbon

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Published: 20 August 2011

MasterChef presenter Gregg Wallace:

The prized possession you value above all others...My whippet Snoopy. Walking alone with him on the hills or the beaches in Kent are special times for me to relax. He was a rescue dogmy wife Heidi found. He’s a real character – like an excitable teenager.

The unqualified regret you wish you could amend...Leaving school when I was 14. My parents broke up when I was young and I lost all direction. Messing up the chance of higher education is an enormous regret.

The way you would spend your fantasy 24 hours, with no travel restrictions...I would give myself over to gluttony by eating from breakfast to dinner at every three-star Michelin restaurant in Europe. It would have to be just me and Snoopy because my wife would make me watch what I eat.

The temptation you wish you could resist...Sweetened Chantilly cream with vanilla. As my mate Michel Roux Junior says, ‘Put Chantilly cream on anything and Gregg will eat it!’

The book that holds an everlasting resonance...The Art Of War In The Western World by Archer Jones. It explains army strategies in perfect detail.

The priority activity if you were the Invisible Man for a day...I’d be on the pitch during the final in this autumn’s Rugby World Cup and trip up the New Zealand wingers so England win.

The way fame and fortune has changed you, for better and worse...I can get a table at any restaurant at any time, but being stuck on the Tube with people staring at you is not so great.

The film you can watch time and time again...Waterloo from 1970 with Rod Steiger as Napoleon. It is incredible and has so many layers of stories.

The person who has influenced you most...Karen Ross, the executive producer of MasterChef. I had a cup of tea with her in 2005 and she asked me to talk about food. I spoke continuously for 40 minutes, then she gave me the job. She completely changed my life.

The figure from history for whom you’d most like to buy a pie and a pint...Alexander the Great, the ancient king of Macedonia. He came from a country the size and strength of Wales, but defeated the world’s biggest empires.

The piece of wisdom you would pass on to a child...Make friends with everyone – whether you like them or not – because they might be able to help you one day.

The unlikely interest that engages your curiosity...I love history. My house is stacked with history books.

The treasured item you lost and wish you could have again...My hair! I was 17 when it started falling out. I was born bald, was hairy for a few years, then reverted to type.

The unending quest that drives you on...I left home at 14 with nothing and I’ve been grafting ever since because I’m scared of having nothing again.

The poem that touches your soul...It’s not a poem but a song from a Winnie the Pooh book that goes, ‘The more it snows (Tiddely pom), The more it goes (Tiddely pom), The more it goes (Tiddely pom), On snowing.’ I love the humour and innocence of Pooh and still read the books. They’re brilliant.

The misapprehension about yourself you wish you could erase...Everyone thinks I’m a chef, but I’m a greengrocer with a love of fine food.

The event that altered the course of your life and character...Getting a job as a fruit and veg salesman at New Covent Garden Market in 1987 when I was 22. Up until then, I’d only had manual jobs and being paid to use my brain was a massive step. In two years, I had my own greengrocery business.

The crime you would commit knowing you could get away with it...I’d set myself up for life with a bank robbery.

The song that means most to you...Romeo And Juliet by Dire Straits. Heidi and I met on Twitter two-andhalf years ago by quoting lyrics from that song. We pussyfooted around until she tweeted, ‘You and me babe, how about it?’ And boom! That was it.

The happiest moment you will cherish forever...My wedding on 8 January this year at Coworth Park Hotel near Ascot. Heidi cuddled me all the way through the ceremony because I couldn’t stop crying. It was the loveliest of days.  [NB: Greg and Heidi separated in March 2012]

The saddest time that shook your world...My grandfather Sid dying from a haemorrhage when I was 19. I sat with him in intensive care, but he never pulled through. He was a strong, great man and like a father to me.

The unfulfilled ambition that continues to haunt you...I’m determined to get a history degree one day.

The philosophy that underpins your life...To keep progressing in all I do.

The order of service at your funeral...I’d like the hymn Jerusalem, which always moves me when it’s sung at international rugby matches. And I would want everyone to have a huge knickerbocker glory. I loved them as a kid and always got one when my grandad took me to Margate.

The way you want to be remembered...As a single dad who did a decent job raising his kids, Tom and Libby [Gregg endured a long custody battle with their mother]. To have been a good father is my proudest boast.

The plug...Rugby fan Gregg is encouraging supporters to Get Up For England, with O2. Win a trip to New Zealand at