I don’t expect anyone to fall to their knees and ask Jesus into their lives because they have seen me bake a cheese soufflé
When the new series of Celebrity MasterChef starts, among the contestants will be the Revd Kate Bottley, saucepan in hand, dog collar on, battling it out in the heat of the kitchen to impress presenters John Torode and Gregg Wallace.
But for Kate, appearing in the BBC series is not just about winning; while determined to do well, and at least not go out in the first round, she believes appearing on the show is part of her calling.
“I feel it is as much a part of my ministry as conducting a funeral or a wedding. I don’t expect anyone to fall to their knees and ask Jesus into their lives because they have seen me bake a cheese soufflé but I am on there because I am a priest and it is about changing perceptions.
“Many people will never set foot in a church, but I just want people to realise that I am a normal person and perhaps to feel a little bit warmer about faith and find it just that bit easier to walk through the door.
“There is a weight to representing the Christian faith and the Church but Christians are representing Jesus all the time, I’m just doing it on a bigger scale, though its’s easier to maintain for a TV programme than it is in everyday life.”
Kate, who is an Associate Priest in the Retford Area Team Ministry, first came to the attention of the media world when a video of her leading a flashmob dance at a wedding went viral and was seen by millions of people. Since then she has appeared on Gogglebox as well as presenting Pause for Thought on the Chris Evans breakfast show, Songs of Praise, and her own show, The Sunday Hour, on Radio 2 at 6am.
She said she loved her time on Celebrity MasterChef, which will be broadcast on BBC1, starting on August 16th: “I really enjoyed it. I thought I was competitive but you are up against Olympians and they take it to a whole different level. I knew I was a decent home cook but I learned a lot of new tricks and techniques.
“It’s nerve wracking but you have to remind yourself it is just cooking, it’s not about saving the world; as a priest I bury people for a living, this is just cooking.
“Gregg and John always want to talk to you when you are about to do something – I burnt my honeycomb three times because Gregg Wallace wanted a chat. Then you show them your plate, it’s like making an offering to a little deity. I knew the look they were going to give me, I’ve had Church Wardens give me the same look, but they were really supportive and encouraging.”
Kate knows that the media world is fickle and the work could dry up; when that happens she says she “will get a taxi home and have no regrets.
“I don’t separate the media stuff from the rest of my work as a priest, it is all one. It’s a different form of ministry – it’s not right for everyone but right now I am having a lot of fun and having a lot of conversations that I hope are helping people on their journey and letting them know that God loves them.”
The other contestants are: Opera star Lesley Garrett; Seven times World Snooker champion, Stephen Hendry; Comedian, actor and presenter Jim Moir (better known as Vic Reeves); Actor and director Nick Moran; Popstar Rachel Stevens; Popstar Jaymi Hensley; Actor Brian Bovell; Tennis legend Henri Leconte; Actor and comedian Abdullah Afzal; Broadcaster Dev Griffin; TV presenter Angellica Bell; Double Olympic gold medallist Becky Adlington; Presenter Julia Somerville; TV personality and presenter Debbie McGee; Actor and presenter Tyger Drew-Honey; Children’s TV presenter Barney Harwood; Writer and TV presenter Ulrika Jonsson; Radio and TV journalist Aasmah Mir; Singer, actress and life skills expert Patti Boulaye OBE.