WHAT a difference a cake makes.
Twelve months ago Stacie Stewart harboured dreams of owning her own top bakery. Cue an appearance on BBC hit show Masterchef and those dreams have just about come true.
Orders for her business the Beehive Bakery, named after her distinctive 60s hair-do, are flooding in and the New Year will see her clocking up another appearance on This Morning.
Key to the 28-year-old’s success seems to be her unabashed passion for proper grub.
“I think the reason it’s worked is because I’ve been proactive,” the former St Anthony’s School girl explains.
“It would be easy to go on the show and go back to a normal job, but I didn’t want to do that. I got an agent and I got myself out there.
“I think it does help that I have a distinctive look and I think it was that that interested This Morning.
“I also think it’s because I represent the North East and what real people want to eat.
“Too many chefs these days are too interested in Michelin Stars instead of focusing on what people want.”
Stacie, who lives in Whitburn with husband James, reached the finals of Masterchef 6 in March, impressing top TV chefs John Torode and Gregg Wallace with dishes such as pork and creamed leeks with pease pudding.
It sparked a deluge of interest in the self-confessed Mod who’s been inundated with offers.
“It’s been the most mental year ever. I got my first order straight after my first appearance on the show,” she recalls.
“I thought it was important to have something in place for when I was on the show.
“Anyone can bake a cake, but what’s made the business successful is the publicity of appearing on Masterchef.”
As well as orders for cupcakes, brownies and other treats for the tastebuds, Stacie offers a private dining service and cookery classes.
“I have regular orders from Cambridge and for shops all over the country,” she explained.
“I’m fully booked for Christmas and have had to turn orders away. I’ve had a few unusual orders. I have been asked to do a wedding cake for next year with a forensic psychology theme.
“Usually when I get orders people say it’s because they have seen me on Masterchef. I’ve had a lot of support.”
Though Stacie didn’t win Masterchef, her down-to-earth attitude caught the attention of This Morning producers who snapped her up to appear in their kitchen segments.
There, she produces dishes such as stuffed pork belly with crushed potato salad, for hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby.
It also gives her the chance to rub shoulders with the show’s celebrity guests, such as David Jason and Katie Price.
Stacie explains: “I’ve been on This Morning half-a-dozen times now. I’ve been asked to come back on January 4 and I’m hoping I’ll become a regular. It’s really chilled-out backstage, they’re a really great team.
“Holly and Phil are really down to earth, they make you feel at home.”
Speaking about her encounter with notorious glamour model Jordan, she said: “I’ve got to speak as I find and Katie Price was actually really lovely.
“I didn’t expect to like her and deliberately didn’t go over to her, but she came up to me, said she loved my hair and asked what my name was.”
As if the bakery, shop openings and TV appearances weren’t enough, plans are also afoot for a book.
The book, A Cook Book for Christines and other Beginners, named after her auntie, who Stacie says can’t cook for toffee, has already been penned and is awaiting a publisher.
She says: “There doesn’t seem to be that one cook book bible. I want this book to be like that, something that’s handed down. It even has a card in the front that looks like a library card.
“It’s got all the regulars in, all the things people love to eat, and it tells you how to do it. It’s all traditional classics, no blue sky thinking.”
If 2010 is anything to go by, it seems Stacie’s culinary career in 2011 is going to be as big as her beehive.