Thomasina Miers has revealed how when catching recent instalments of MasterChef she marvelled at how things had changed since she won the BBC contest in 2005.

“It feels like we were in the dark ages when we were doing it,” said 38-year-old chef Thomasina, who founded the popular Wahaca Mexican street food chain after being crowned winner.

“I remember cooking for the army and putting some basil in my rice pudding because I thought it would give it a nice perfume, and Gregg [Wallace] going, ‘What the hell are you doing?’

“Now, you wouldn’t think twice; you get basil ice cream all over the place.”

The mother-of-two, who has just released her latest cookbook, Chilli Notes, admitted she had “never cooked any” of the type of dishes now conjured up in the MasterChef finals.

“I find that type of food very male, anyway – very molecular [gastronomy],” she adds. “There are a lot of male chefs in this country now doing ultra-precision kind of cooking, which is really clever and amazing and brilliant.

“But I guess, as a female and as a mother, I’m more interested in this idea of food as being for everyone – feeding people, providing nutrition, that everyday purpose of food.”

These days, when she isn’t working at her restaurant chain, writing books or appearing on TV, Thomasina happily spends time with her husband and two young daughters; she has a three-year-old and a 16-month-old.

She also enjoys eating out to keep on top of new food trends – although the slim star confesses she’ll “always order chips if they’re on the menu”.

Celebrity MasterChef continues on BBC1, Thursday, July 10, 9.00pm