Buon appetito!… Or how talented, intelligent cooks wrote their own success story

As one of three sisters, I see now I’m in my 30s that my parents missed a trick.

Had they trained us to sing, dance, play sport a la the Williams sisters or excel in some other way, we would have been onto a winner – in both financial and career terms.

Sadly they were not the sort of tiger parents who thought of our success from birth – a real chiappashame if you ask me – and we went our own separate ways.

The Chiappa sisters are three Welsh Italian sisters who are successful independently of each other, but also thriving as a package; celebrity cooks.

There is no suggestion here that they were forced into the kitchen at a young age, prodded by a frightening mum and dad determined to create a family dynasty.

But their family given skills, nous and talent in cooking and food mean that they have featured on television, on Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube channel and in their own cookbook.

The best part is, not only are they great at what they do and gorgeous, but they’re also really, really nice.

Wonder if it’s too late for the McCrum sisters to launch some sort of Northern Irish cooking empire…?

Read the piece here

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No more bridezilla… Or why a high-profile bride surprised me

I’ve never dreamed of getting married – it’s just not for me.

But I have often interviewed brides for publications, and let me tell you, they are intense.

Even after the wedding has taken place, they’re keen on evaluating and measuring the success of everything they’ve done – from the table favours to the first dance, the vows to the last.

ringIt’s always been a bit of a crazy world to me, someone who would be much happier spending all that hard-earned cash on a holiday somewhere incredible – finally seeing Petra, or visiting Red Square to see the bright colours of Saint Basil’s in person.

But when I spoke to Karen Paullada from Stella, the bride thing started to make sense.

As an actress in one of the UK’s most loved sitcoms, I expected her to be starry or perhaps have an attitude.

That was wrong for a start – she was funny, kind and very charming.

But also, she was so laid back about her wedding that she made me see it in a whole different light.

“I didn’t understand why everyone was getting so stressed over it all, I thought it was really easy,” she told me.

With the pictures showing that the final event was stylish, modern, and packed with friends and family including Stella writer and comedy queen Ruth Jones, it seems like maybe the low stress approach is the way to go.

In fact, if it’s that much of a breeze, perhaps it’ll catch on.

Read the piece here

An actor’s life… Or how you can get what you want if you try

The world of the actor is a strange one.

Basically existing on a freelance basis, they have an agent casting around for jobs and, if they;re lucky, taking 12% for the privilege, but all too often there will be stretches without work to content with.

Credit: John Rogers/ITV
Credit: John Rogers/ITV

Amy Beth Hayes may have started out in a small Welsh market town, but the Abergavenny girl has wowed TV audiences in everything from Mr Selfridge to Lilyhammer.

Speaking to her about her day job, it was really clear that she enjoyed the work, and it’s obviously something that she’s skilled at.

She decided to appear as Kitty in the ITV drama when she heard that Cardiff-born writer Andrew Davies was penning the series and she says the story lines and characters didn’t disappoint.

What’s interesting about Amy Beth’s background is that, although acting was her dream, she went to Oxford at 18, throwing over an offer of a place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

She said that once she was told that Oxford wouldn’t suit her, she was determined to make it work, and so it has.

What a terrific role model she is for young people who want to achieve their dreams – she’s shown that there’s nothing detrimental about taking the road less travelled and yet still ending up on centre stage.

Read the piece here