ONE of us is a high flying TV chef who has just opened her own bakery, the other burns water.
I shared a home economics classroom with Stacie Stewart when we were both at St Anthony’s School, in the long, distant past.
So when I was invited to Stacie‘s newly opened Beehive Bakery at the Business and Innovation Centre on Hylton Riverside, Sunderland, I was a bit cautious.
I was to take part in a bake-off and cake decorating workshop, to find out about the Masterchef contestant and This Morning chef’s new venture.
Stacie, 28, and I have trod very different culinary paths since our days spent together in home-ec.
Whereas my knowledge of cookery begins and ends with my signature dish of beans on toast, former classmate Stacie has gone on to forge a hugely successful career from what was once a hobby.
This is thanks, in part, to reaching the finals of last year’s Masterchef with her North East dishes, but it’s also due to some serious elbow grease in the kitchen.
Keen to capitalise on her appearance on the hit BBC show, Stacie, who lives in Whitburn with husband James, set up her own business from home which she juggled for over a year while working as a PA.
Her skills in the kitchen caught the eye of This Morning producers, who snapped her up as a regular guest chef, and also investors, who have helped her dreams of opening the Beehive Bakery kitchen and cookery school become reality.
Two months ago, Stacie opened the Beehive – named after her talking point hair-do – where she works full-time after leaving her PA profession.
She said: “It was unbelievable when I got the keys to this place and walked in, and to think all this happened in a year.
“A lot of people who were on the same series of Masterchef as me went back to their normal day jobs.
“I did that too but I worked my backside off to make sure I stayed in the public eye, doing three jobs for a year and sometimes doing 20-hour days.”
Her hard work has paid off and Stacie now has bakery orders flooding in from across the North East and nationally. She’s even been visited by Mr Kipling bosses, keen to learn more about her take on cakes.
But there’s more than one string to this self-confessed Mod’s bow. She also provides a private dining service, cookery classes and a pop-up vintage tea party where she rocks up in a VW Camper to serve handmade treats on kitsch china.
Stacie, who is gearing up for forthcoming appearances at this year’s Isle of Man Food festival and the Ideal Home show, added: “If you work hard enough and really want it, Masterchef can change your life.
“Working at the bakery is tiring and I’ve lost 20lbs since it opened through all the running around, but it’s so rewarding and I’m constantly thinking of ways I can develop the business.
“I have lists of lists I need to make. But it’s like Cheryl Cole says: ‘anything that’s worth having is worth fighting for’.”
I think it’s fair to say that in this bake-off, Stacie definitely emerged as the Queen Bee.
* To learn more visit www.thebeehivebakery.co.uk