Hackney's pie and mash house son featured on MasterChef

Owner of the Broadway F Cooke shop, Robert "Bob" Cooke before it shut in 2018. 

Robert spent much of his childhood in his dad's F Cooke shop in Broadway Market. - Credit: F Cooke

Hackney’s oldest pie and mash family business was represented on Celebrity MasterChef last week, when F. Cooke shop owner Robert Cooke featured as a guest judge.

Robert appeared on the television show, which pits stars against each other to compete in cooking tasks, for its last week (September 15).

He comes from a long line of east London pie and mash traders and has recently opened his own shop in Chelmsford, Essex. 

Robert said:"I was honoured to be asked onto Celebrity MasterChef, especially with such an expert as Callum Franklin teaching the celebrities to make their creations. It was a fantastic experience and one I'll never forget."

Robert's sister owns an F. Cooke in Romford, his uncle has one in Hoxton and his father sold his Broadway Market shop in 2018.

He was requested to join the judging panel on Celebrity MasterChef, alongside Michelin start chef Sally Abe, food historian Polly Russell and Phil Turner.

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Robert mentioned how his appearance on the show indicates a growing appreciation for east London food and culture. 

The pie and mash shop owner says more and more places are "popping up" selling the east London dish. 

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He added: "I feel there has been a bit of a resurgence of pie and mash, which I find quite interesting. 

"And its funny how trends are cyclical.

"In the 60s pie and mash was huge, then I think it died a death, and then it made a resurgence, then died a death in the 90s.

"And now, again people are starting to have it at their weddings." 

Celebrities such as Megan McKenna, Joe Swash, Dion Dublin, Kem Cetinay and Kadeena Cox were asked to perform their best creations after being taught by MasterChef Callum Franklin, a pastry expert who cooks in the Pie Room at the Holborn Dining Room at London's Rosewood hotel. 

F Cooke is the oldest established eel and pie house family with a 160 year history and the traditional pie and mash and jellied eels dishes served today are made from the same recipe conjured up in 1862. 

The pies are made fresh every day on the premises from F. Cooke in Chelmsford, Essex which opened in November 2020. 

F. Cooke now delivers nationally, via a new recently launched service. 

Learn more at www.fcookepieandmash.co.uk

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