MasterChef presenter Gregg Wallace is off to Windsor Castle next Wednesday 1 March 2023 to receive one of the late Queen's last honours - an MBE - and afterwards he'll be celebrating with his wife at Gloucester-born Tom Kerridge's restaurant The Hand & Flowers in Marlow.
As Wallace turns 59 this year and reflects on the achievements that have led him to this proud moment, he's keen to share his lifetime of wisdom to help boost people's health.
Wallace is appearing at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival in May 2023, where he's taking to the new Fire and Feast Stage to share outdoor cooking tips. But the message he really wants to share is just how important learning the basics of cooking are to boost health and wellbeing.
'I'm really concerned by the obesity issue in the UK. I want people to cook more, eat less snacks, less takeaways and to be healthier. There is a huge lack of cookery knowledge, it's become a middle class past time for weekends and it's having a major impact on health,' said Wallace.
He lost weight after a health warning and has never looked back. He's in the gym five days a week to build muscle strength and claims he eats more than he ever did when he was overweight - he just eats different foods. He's also the founder of health website, Show Me Fit, which helps people manage their weight, with a big focus on how transformative cooking can be.
'To get in shape, you've got to eat good food and that means lean protein; fresh fruit and veg by the tonne; shellfish; chicken; lean steak and chips. Losing weight is not about eating less, it's about learning what you can eat. These days I do not eat pizza, curry or fish and chips, I say no to crisps and chocolates.
'I've got 2,000 people on my site and 12 I've mentored personally - I've seen up to 10 stone of weight loss in one person and people who have reversed Type 2 diabetes.
'And it's not through a diet and feeling hungry and being on a treadmill - cooking properly and eating better works.'
When he does eat out, as a firm traditionalist, he has time honoured favourites he always heads to. In Scotland, 'amazing chef' Tom Kitchin in Edinburgh is his favourite; he's madly in love with Michel Roux Junior as well as Michael Caine's restaurant in Devon; and just over the border, he really likes Aktar Islam in Birmingham.
But for a Gloucestershire feast, there's only one place for him and that's at his rugby player pal Phil Vickery's place, No.3 in Cheltenham.
'He just does good food and sharing food well. He doesn't pretty things up necessarily - there's no foam or squirty sauces.'
Wallace will often call in after catching a game at Gloucester Rugby, where he loves soaking up the atmosphere.
'The Gloucester rugby fans are noisy and boisterous - they're surely the loudest, aren't they?' he says with a characteristic chuckle.
He's really looking forward to meeting food fans at RHS Malvern Spring Festival, which takes place at the Three Counties Showground in May 2023, because he simply likes talking to people and finds them endlessly interesting. He's excited to chat to local food producers and can't wait to try some goodies and sip some regional beers and ciders.
Wallace is keen to keep things fun and upbeat at the show and will share some tongue in cheek cooking tips, including resolutely not cooking while drunk, which he once did with a French onion soup. To the horror of his family, he confesses he served up the classic dish that he normally cooks perfectly with too much flour and almost raw onion in a grey concoction that looked like a bucket of wallpaper paste!
When asked about the secret ingredient that's most important to get right in life - lasting love - he says that's a matter of luck.
'Love is a game of chance,' he said. 'The day I met my wife was like finding the winning lottery ticket and so different to what I'd experienced all my life. To find someone dedicated to your wellbeing and for you to dedicate yourself to their wellbeing is an extraordinary thing. For me, it was the first time it had been reciprocated and I feel very fortunate.'
Wallace is helping visitors boost their health and wellbeing through cooking at RHS Malvern Spring Festival on Saturday 13 May 2023.
For more information, see RHS Malvern Spring Festival.