‘Baking Hot’ with Lorraine Pascale

Top model turned TV baking queen Lorraine Pascale tells the Evening Standardhow being adopted as shaped her and mentions her work with TACT…

My friend texted me after the first show and said: “They’re liking you on Mumsnet. You’ve made it, whatever the viewing figures are!” In fact, model-turned-chef Lorraine Pascale, 38, is getting more than two million viewers for her Monday night show, Baking Made Easy. Facebook and Twitter are buzzing about her. […]

Back in the Nineties she was one of the most successful models in the world, working alongside Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington. She was the first black British cover girl of American Elle. […]

With her beauty and accent, one imagines a childhood full of picnics and ponies. But her past is more complex. Born to Caribbean parents in London in 1973, she was placed in care at three months old. Pascale was the fourth child, but her father was not her mother’s husband (they were separated at the time), and she was put into care when they were reconciled.

Aged 18 months, she was adopted by a white family in Oxford who had a son Jason, three years older. But then more upheaval – her adoptive parents divorced when she was three and she lived with her adoptive mother.

Like Nigel Slater, who wrote his memoir Toast about his dysfunctional childhood, there are reasons why food has always occupied such a place of comfort in her life.

“My earliest baking memory is of me at primary school, aged five, carrying a battered old tin containing the precious ingredients to make raspberry buns. Cookery classes only came round once a term but I looked forward to them more than anything else.”

When she was seven her adoptive mother became ill, so she spent some time in foster homes. It was tough, she acknowledges. “The first family I was fostered by were friends from school, so that was great fun. But the second family I spent time with were deeply religious and I was made to go to church every day, which isn’t necessarily top of your list when you’re eight.” […]

Eventually she was returned to her adoptive mother. Today they are very close. “My mother has always been very honest and open, which I think is so important with children. And supportive of whatever I’ve wanted to do in life.” […]

The fashion world has no part in her life now and she has no model friends, confessing that she couldn’t even watch the Anna Wintour fashion documentary, The September Issue – “a bit too close to the nerve”.

Instead she is teaching cookery skills to Barnardo’s children and plans to work withTACT (The Adolescent and Children’s Trust), a charity for children and young people involved with the care system.

“I want to get hands-on involved, not just with some fabulous party opening thing. I always think that children in that environment, if you have just one person you can talk to, who can be there when you’re going through all the rubbish, it can really save you.” […]