Keeping it in the family with Tilly Ramsay

Tilly Ramsay – daughter of Gordon – is a chip off the old block. As she releases her first cookbook, Tilly’s Kitchen Takeover, Around Town meets the teenager to talk food, fame and family

Tilly Ramsay is only 15 and already has her own TV show and cookbook, but she’s still not in charge of the kitchen at home.

In fact, when it comes to doing the washing-up, she says: “I try, but mum always says, ‘You’re doing it wrong’, then she takes over!”

Youngest daughter of sweary, hot-headed celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, 50, and former school teacher turned cookery book writer Tana, 41, Tilly’s Kitchen Takeover is her first book and combines recipes from Tilly’s CBBC series, Matilda And The Ramsay Bunch.

It’s been designed for complete cookery beginners, whether they’re kids or not, so don’t expect the pages strewn with Michelin star-worthy dishes – this is food Tilly-style, with only the occasional practical hint from her dad (who apparently doesn’t swear at home) woven into the book.

“My dad wasn’t overly involved, he just helped me with a few things. There were a few recipes I couldn’t quite nail, and I said, ‘What would you do? How would you improve this?’ and he really helped me there, but he wasn’t pushing me to do any of his stuff,” explains Tilly, who lives in London and California. “I would come to him for help, instead of him coming and telling me what to do.”

It’s just as well they didn’t create the book together; when they do join forces in the kitchen, things can get out of hand. “I’d say it’s utter chaos when we’re together. There’s a lot of mess, we’re very loud together, we sing, we have a lot of fun, we boss each other around.”

“I once told him to, ‘Please get out of my kitchen!'” says Tilly with a grin. “He nearly made me set stuff on fire because he was distracting me. I shut the door and just said, ‘Excuse me!'”

Tilly started in the kitchen when she was still tiny, chipping in when her parents made dinner, and that hasn’t stopped. However, you won’t find her eating out at any fancy restaurants.

“We’ve only ever been to my dad’s Michelin-starred restaurant once. That’s because it’s a very special restaurant for him, and he keeps us as normal as he can. We just go to Wagamama with friends.”

Staying normal seems key for Tilly, who says her family is “just like any other family”.

She watches Bake Off and MasterChef (“The people on them are just normal people who love cooking, and I think that’s so cool”), she loves Justin Bieber, playing sport and hanging out with her mates, and Instagrams just like any other teenager – bar the fact she’s got 159,000 followers, and the Beckham kids are in her photos.

“It’s funny seeing where I’ve come from,” she admits, considering how she’s progressed from helping her mum ice cupcakes aged four, to becoming a teen cookbook writer and independently creating tiered rainbow cakes with multicoloured sponges.

“I’ve practised so much,” says Tilly, and despite criticisms of nepotism, it is difficult to knock her work ethic.
Summer holidays are spent filming The Ramsay Bunch, while Tilly fits in TV appearances, recipe writing and book commitments around school.

“It’s really easy to manage because my mum makes sure I do my school work,” she explains. “There’s no pressure to do stuff when I’m getting stressed with too much work, it’s just relaxed.”

And anyway, filming in Las Vegas, working with her brother Jack and two sisters, Holly and Megan, yoga paddleboarding and training with Cirque du Soleil, isn’t exactly painful.

“I think of it as fun,” says Tilly, who has grown used to being on telly – from appearing on The Late Late Show with her dad and James Corden, to cooking her All-American Chilli on This Morning (“Phillip and Holly liked it!”).
“The first few times I did it, it’s obviously quite scary, but now I know it’s good just to be myself.”

Want to join Tilly’s gang, and get the kids involved with cooking? Try one of these three super simple and healthy recipes…

(Makes 12-14 bars)

  • 180g soft dates, stoned
  • 360ml runny honey
  • 250g rolled oats
  • 60g pecans, roughly chopped
  • 60g dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 30g sunflower seeds
  • 120g unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 2tbsp chia seeds
  • Vegetable or sunflower oil, for greasing the tins
  • Heat your oven to 180C/Gas mark 4.

Put the dates in a small saucepan with the honey. Bring to the boil then blitz in a blender until you have a smooth paste. Leave to cool a little while you get the rest of your ingredients ready.

Put the oats, pecans, apricots, sunflower seeds, coconut and chia seeds into a mixing bowl and add the date paste. Mix everything together really well.

Line a brownie tin (approximately 23cm square) with baking paper and brush it with a little tasteless oil like vegetable oil. Pour the granola mixture on top, pressing it into the corners and making sure it is roughly flat on top.

Put the tray into the oven for 40 minutes until lightly brown on top, then remove and leave to cool completely.
Cut into bars and try not to eat them all, or you won’t have any left for your breakfast!

These granola bars take a bit of time to make, so don’t start them 10 minutes before the school run! Make them the night before instead. They will last for up to five days in an airtight container.

:: Dad says…
When measuring things like honey or syrup, coat the measuring jug, bowl or spoon with a thin layer of vegetable or sunflower oil beforehand so all the sticky stuff gets into the mixture rather than left behind.

(Serves 4)

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • Drizzle of vegetable or sunflower oil, for frying
  • 450g beef mince
  • 225g tomato puree
  • 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 250ml chicken, beef or vegetable stock
  • 1tbsp chilli powder
  • 2tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 x 400g tin of kidney beans (drained)
  • Sour cream, to serve
  • Grated cheddar cheese, to serve
  • Spring onions, sliced, to serve

Drizzle the oil into a large saucepan and place over a medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the onion and garlic and cook until soft.

Add the mince to the pan and use a wooden spatula or spoon to break it into smaller bits and keep it moving around the pan until it has all browned.

Stir in the tomato puree and cook for about five minutes before pouring in the tinned tomatoes. Let them bubble together.

Pour in the stock and add the chilli powder and ground cumin, then season with salt and pepper and give everything a really good stir. Bring up to the boil and then turn down the heat so the chilli is gently simmering. Leave to simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring from time to time to check it isn’t drying out (if it is, add a little more stock or water).
Stir in the kidney beans and cook for 10 minutes until warmed through.

Serve with sour cream, cheese and spring onions.

(Serves 6-8)

  • 2 green apples, cored
  • 2 red apples, cored
  • 2tbsp unsalted pistachios, chopped
  • 100g chocolate spread
  • 100g smooth peanut butter
  • 2tbsp freeze-dried strawberries
  • 2tbsp dried blueberries
  • 2tbsp flaked almonds
  • 2tbsp yoghurt-covered raisins

Slice the cored apples in half across the middle and then each half in half again across the middle – so each apple ends up becoming four rings with holes in the middle.

Spread one side of the apple circles with either chocolate spread or peanut butter and lay them out on a plate.
To finish, sprinkle the apples with different combinations of the freeze-dried fruits, nuts and raisins.

:: Tilly’s tip:
Some of my favourite combinations are chocolate spread with pistachios and almonds, and peanut butter with yoghurt-coated raisins and freeze-dried strawberries, but get experimenting – you’re in charge here!


:: Matilda & The Ramsay Bunch: Tilly’s Kitchen Takeover by Tilly Ramsay is published in hardback by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £20. Available now. Pictures by Jemma Watts