We interviewed celebrity chef Gemma Stafford when she was visiting Manhattan recently. But to make our day even better, we baked some microwave meals with her — brownies and pizza. She is best known as the Bigger Bolder Baker.
How old were you when you started cooking and baking?
I was around 6 years old. I actually remember the very first recipe I made with my mom. I’m from Ireland, and in Ireland we have a lot of desserts that are like cobblers and crisps.
How did you determine that cooking was your passion?
When I was young, all I used to do was read cookbooks. Look through cooking magazines. Look at the pictures. That’s what I did 24/7. So when I was young, I decided I wanted to be a teacher or be a chef. And all these years later, I’m kind of doing the two right now, combining my love for food and my passion for teaching and sharing whatever I do for the years.
What’s a mug meal?
Mug meals are the perfect little single-serving meal that you can whip up with real food in no time at all. So when you think about it, it’s not fast food, it’s like real food fast. So you can make yourself a whole little pizza in a mug — yup, that’s what we’re going to do today. You can make a brownie in a mug. You can make — ask me what you can make.
How did you decide on the name for your book?
“Bigger Bolder Baking” is all about over-the-top recipes. So when you think about maybe like coddles — coddles you deep-fry. But I don’t have a deep fryer in my house and don’t want to heat up a lot of oil, so “Bigger Bolder Baking” came about from a lot of bold ways to do something. So what is a different way, a different, alternative way, and something that is still bold, over the top?
What are your most popular recipes?
My mug meals are hands-down my most popular recipes. So on my website, biggerbolderbaking.com, I have all of my recipes. But the ones that have gone viral and taken the internet by storm have been my mug meals. So Pizza in a Mug is super popular. Brownie in a Mug, a Donut in a Mug.
Do you have a cookbook out, or are all of your recipes online?
Right now I have e-book that’s free on my website, and it’s all my mug meals so you guys have to go on there. You can download my ebook for free. It has loads of mug recipes in there, sweet and savory, whether you want a snack or dinner or a lunch.
Do shop for your ingredients? Who does the cleaning up when you bake?
Oh, my gosh. That’s — I will admit I make a bit of a mess in the kitchen. I’m not the tidiest of bakers. And over the years I’ve gotten better. I do the shopping for my ingredients. Sometimes I get help with the washing up. But when I was very young, when I used to bake, I used to turn the kitchen upside down. My mom used to go crazy because there were ingredients everywhere. There were tins everywhere, bowls. So when you guys bake, it’s a good thing to learn to clean as you go. So, my mother used to say, clean as you go. It’s not the most fun part, though.
When you go out to dinner, do you order dessert?
You know what, that’s a really good question. Yes, I do order dessert because I love dessert. Usually what I go for is something . . . that’s a little bit off-the-wall. You know, like a twist on something. Like I wouldn’t just order a bowl of ice cream or sorbet or something like that. I always go for the dessert that’s crazy or over the top. Some of my favorite desserts are things like meringue.
Have you ever been to a fast-food restaurant?
Yes. A lot of them. Name any of them and I’ve been there. And what’s funny, we don’t really have fast-food restaurants in Ireland.
Does your dog Waffles eat any of your desserts?
Yes, he does. Just recently we made a cake and we went out of the house. We came back and it was on the floor, and he had eaten the top of it out. I pushed it in off the counter, and slowly over time he worked it off the counter. He jumped up and jumped up and jumped up, pulled it off and ate the top of the cake.
How do you get ideas for your recipes?
So I get ideas, I get inspirations from my viewers. So from all of my Bold Bakers, I get inspiration from them. Every week when I upload a new recipe, they ask me, or they request to see different recipes, what they’d like to see in the future. So I take those ideas. I kind of think, how can I make those big and bold? How can I make them different? How can I make them stand out on YouTube? And then I go from there. A lot of my inspiration comes from you guys.
How do you feel being on TV?
I didn’t ever grow up thinking I was going to be making videos on YouTube and making millions of people around the world who want to be seeing them. It’s a lot of fun. When I go on TV I get to do baking demonstrations, so I can just show people how to cook. I like that my videos online have been viewed over 120 million times. So to think that people have watched me 120 million times is kind of crazy.
How many subscribers do you have on YouTube?
On YouTube I have 1.4 million subscribers. So that is, if you think about that, as in size, Ireland has around 4 million people on the whole island. So it’s a little less than a third of Ireland. Maybe a little bit more.
What other countries have you lived in?
I lived in Ireland, because I’m from there. I lived in Italy. I lived in Australia. And then most recently I moved to the United States.