BBC Good Food 25th birthday party, and I won a thingy.

Photo taken by Kerstin Rodgers, aka MsMarmiteLover.

Photo taken by Kerstin Rodgers, aka MsMarmiteLover.

A few weeks ago I received an invitation in the post to the 25th birthday party of BBC Good Food – and squeaked with excitement. I credit the BBC Good Food website as being one of the main ways I taught myself to cook, by looking up and poring over recipes online, studiously copying them into notebooks that I still have…in fact it’s got me into trouble on occasion, when I needed an ‘alternative’ Christmas cake recipe late last year for a feature, I remembered I had a really good plum one written down in one of my early notebooks. I typed it up and saved it to send on, but something wasn’t quite right. I’d cooked this about ten times, it was a firm favourite, but it just didn’t feel like ‘my’ loose, informal style. A quick internet search later, and there it was, gram for gram, sitting on the BBC Good Food website. Needless to say, I didn’t submit it. Quite a few of the recipes in A Girl Called Jack have been credited back to the site too, I’ve been tapping ingredients into their search bar ever since I packed my first bags and flew the nest almost a decade ago.

Having such an easy to access resource (even on a mobile phone!) with thoroughly tested recipes and photos that looked a little like my attempt at the end result, gave me the confidence to experiment and explore in my first kitchen… and the next one… and the next one. I had a little jolt, holding that invitation in my hand, that I was about to meet a LOT of people who unknowingly and unwittingly had been my long distance cookery teachers, food stylists and mentors, for many years. Yikes.

And so, in a rare fit of ‘oh my goodness this is seriously special’, I, er, put a dress on. In my defence, I’d been to another cookery ‘do’ two nights before and spilled some sort of canape on my only waistcoat, so I couldn’t wear that. The Dress was bought in a fit of madness when I got my first book deal, a ‘just in case’ garment, that hung on the back of a door ever since. I got it down. I cut the labels out. I put it on. It looked like this:

The lesser-spotted Jack-in-a-ballgown. Photo by Kerstin Rodgers, aka MsMarmiteLover.

The lesser-spotted Jack-in-a-ballgown. Photo by Kerstin Rodgers, aka MsMarmiteLover.

And then, on the way there, I had an email from the BBC Good Food team to say I’d won a thingy. I’d been named one of their BBC Good Food Game Changers for 2015, for ‘influencing and shaping the food revolution, raising awareness about budget cooking and championing universal access to affordable home-cooked food.’ I didn’t really know what to say to that, except a very surprised thankyou!

The other Game Changers include:

James Martin, for hosting the longest running Saturday morning programme in UK history, and providing a platform for so many up and coming chefs.

Anna Beattie, creator and executive director of The Great British Bake Off, for galvanising a new generation of bakers, with a global TV sensation that has homemade food at its heart.

Angela Hartnett, one of our highest profile female chefs, who has inspired a generation of women to follow in her footsteps in professional kitchens.

Fiona Hamilton-Fairley, for changing the lives of families for over 20 years by teaching children to cook.

FoodCycle, for tackling food waste from supermarkets and connecting the community with local food and cooking services.

Michael Mosley, for changing the way we think about our food and health by keeping the subject in the headlines.

Thomasina Miers, for changing the perception of the chain restaurant scene and Mexican cuisine with the hugely successful Wahaca – and continuing to innovate.

I think all that remains for me to say is a great big happy birthday to BBC Good Food, and long may it continue. I said on the night through a mess of overwhelmed sobs that I hope my blog is as useful to a few people as the BBC website was to me, in finding my feet, learning the basics, experimenting, exploring, and best of all discovering a little community of like-minded people ‘below the line’ in the comments underneath the recipes, who share their tweaks, ideas, and suggestions to encourage people to stray from the recipes into a whole new world of exploration and innovation. So thankyou BBC Good Food, thankyou to the commenters who share their ideas, thankyou to all of my readers, and all of you who make my blog and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram a friendly, supportive community to be part of. I am always very humbled by awards and accolades – because this has been such a shared journey, as Professor Green titled his most recent album, a definite ‘Growing Up In Public’, and you’re still here three years to the day from my first blog post (WordPress sent me a birthday reminder today!), still supporting, still encouraging, still sending me photos of your cats when I’m having a bluesy day. Nobody could ever have predicted this, least of all me, and I’m really very thankful for it. (And a little titbit of random knowledge; I read somewhere last weekend that Caroline Lucas keeps all her awards in the fireplace – I thought I was cool nonchalantly using them as doorstops and bookends, but hey, she’s just cooler than me!)

  Jack Monroe. I’m on Twitter and Instagram @MsJackMonroe

Categories: Blog, NEWS


  1. Well deserved Jack! And you look great in a dress!!! Now… add the accolade to your title please!

  2. I can see there could be fruitful collaboration between thingy winners – I hope you can work with some of them.

    James Martin – you should be on that show to ensure they stay real

    Fiona Hamilton-Fairley – teaching children to cook cheaply

    FoodCycle – low cost cooking and reducing waste go together

  3. I am so proud of you!!! You have done great work, and encouraged many people with low incomes to feel like they CAN eat well, and they DO exist. Also, you look fabulous in that dress!!!

  4. Congrats! Well deserved. You look stunning in the dress, but you would look stunning in a bin bag. x

  5. Hi Jack, just letting you know that you looked great in the dress, and I agree that you should be on Saturday Kitchen1

  6. Whooooo hooooo! I left the UK a few more than 25 years ago, so Good Food means nothing. But power to all who have seen your value and power to you for recognizing your mentor, support systems and accepting your place there..

  7. Well done Jack! And you look lovely with the new haircut and frock! Oh, and while I am here, thank you for the recipes and work you do. Many of the ideas you’ve shared have become firm favorites with my family of picky French eaters! Xx

  8. Congratulations. Really glad to see how many women were recognised in the list of awards.

  9. Congratulations 🙂

    You’re in good company, I remember Princess Diana having a little black dress that she had left hanging unworn, she too pulled it out when she wanted to wow the world, you looked equally glamorous in yours.

  10. Congratulations Jack, and what a line up to be in! I would never have expected ballgown+tattoos to look good, but you rocked it!

  11. Hi Jack – congratulations. I can’t quite believe it’s only been three years of blogging – you’re winging your way to national treasuredom even faster than Olivia Coleman!

    I also think BBC Good Food is brilliant, and if only my hubby (who is addicted to celebrity cookbooks) would realize most of the recipes are on there anyway!

    You look awesome too, by the way! Hope you had a lovely time.

  12. Yay! CONGRATULATIONS!! So well-deserved. And I love that it took you by surprise.
    You ARE a game-changer. And a total knockout in that frock
    Happy 3rd blogging birthday

  13. Nice one matey, I can’t honestly say I’m surprised though. Your pared-down, innovative cooking style deserved recognition. Dare I say it’s only the beginning? I’ve registered on your blog and love the regular recipe posts. We have a similar cooking style – born of necessity and I always read with interest what you’ve come up with. Deffo trying that mac and cheese one out. Keep going Jack and keep doing well. X

  14. Congratulations – thoroughly well deserved. Like you I credit BBC Good Food for much of my knowledge and enthusiasm for food and cooking – long may it go on. And you’re an inspiration to both me and my daughter & son-in-law who have to be seriously budget conscious these days.

  15. Congratulations Jack you deserve it. You looked great in the little black dress.
    Thank you for al your recipes they are great, Just like you. x

  16. Congratulations on winning the award and congrats for wearing the dress looks fab you lus !!!!

  17. Did you know that an advert for online betting (Coral) appears on your website? Seems a bit odd for a frugal blog! Congratulations on your award.

  18. Congratutions you deserve it. Your recipes ideas are an inspiration and made me realise you can create amazing food on a budget. Thank you Susanne

  19. Congratulations on your well-deserved award and on your 3rd blog anniversary. I love the hairstyle – and you look fab in that LBD. Most of all, THANK YOU for that blog, your recipes and my well-thumbed ‘Jack-book’.

  20. Congratulations on the award – absolutely love your blog: down to Earth and common sense talk about food. Love the Good Food website as well, always good for inspiration when you need it!

  21. Whoa! Wow! You look amazing. You’ve really help me get through a rough time. Not just with the recipes but with coping in general. You’ve taking on so much and in the lime light. Your bravery has made me believe i have the guts to start again and now because it is necessary. I really like that you deviate from recipes, even though that is why I starting reading your blog a couple of yrs ago after i seen you early one morning on the news. Thanks Jack and Congratulations:)

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