"I so loved being on MasterChef Australia a couple of years back, and it was really the enduring memory of that time that made me so excited to return," the 58-year old tells OK!. "I'd have come back sooner if I'd been able to, but sadly my schedule didn't allow for it."
"The level of talent on the show, I knew from my own experience as a guest judge and from being a long-time viewer, is very high," she says. "But the level of cooking and culinary intelligence and instinct is the best it's ever been this season."
Here, the celeb chef chats to OK! about all things cooking!
Have you learnt any new techniques from your time on the show?
I don't want to give too much away, but there were certainly flavour combinations and dishes I long to try at home. There is one particular dish which I fear is a little too technically elaborate for me, but was easily the best thing I've eaten all year. And what I loved about it, too, was it was not tricksy, show-off-y food, just glorious food.
If you auditioned for MasterChef, what would you cook to impress the judges?
That would be terrifying! I'm not really one for cooking to impress, so I would just concentrate on making something I believe they'd love eating. I might have to make a some sort of delicate steamed lemon and thyme sponge, with roast rhubarb and pistachios and a vanilla custard.
Is there a particular dish you love to eat when you visit Australia?
I love eating in Australia and I make the most of it when I'm there. The minute I hit Melbourne I have to go to one of George's restaurants, Gazi, to have chips with oregano and feta, with the white taramasalata on the side. I do make the most of fish and seafood we don't get in the UK – kingfish and blue swimmer crab, in particular – but really, I just try to eat as much as possible!
Which of the judges is the biggest handful and who is the biggest teddy bear on set?
All of the judges are really lovely. No strops or tantrums to report. Far from it – they are so kind, supportive and inspirational. That's why the contestants flourish as they do. They are a lot of fun and, yes, they can be a handful all together – but in a way that makes me laugh.
If you had to pick just one of the judges to cook for you, who would it be and why?
What I think would be really fun would be to get all three of them in the kitchen together. Actually, I wouldn't just want to be cooked for by them, I'd want to be in the kitchen cooking with them, followed by a big, long feast!
For more Masterchef goss, pick up a copy of OK! Magazine, on sale now!