‘It’s helped build my confidence’: Meet the star of Come Dine With Me in Leeds airing next week
-> Leeds Curry House of the Year Top 10 shortlist revealed for 2019Ele Barker, a 39-year-old fitness instructor who lives in Otley, cooked steak and ‘posh nosh’ for her fellow contestants on the hugely popular TV show.
She features in the episodes alongside BBC Radio Leeds presenter and former Leeds United midfielder Sanchez Payne.
Ele lives with her husband Andy and two children, nine-year-old Thea and six-year-old Oscar, who encouraged her to apply for the show.
Ele said: “I had the time of my life. The episodes really have everything - good looking men, fine food, laughter and dancing. And it’s definitely got craziness!
“There could be a romance or two, or a bromance, you’ll have to watch and see. I really enjoyed the food in general, it was good hosting from everybody.
“Some people said they hadn’t cooked before and weren’t used to having dinner parties, but the food was on a good level.
“I made steak and my dinner was a ‘posh nosh’ kind of evening.
“As a fitness instructor I wanted to introduce them to healthier food, like probiotics and green juices.”
Ele gave up working in advertising and PR when she had her children, but suffered a knock on her confidence.
She retrained as a fitness instructor and started up her own business, Real Mum Fitness based in Pool in Wharfedale, where she encourages women to bring their children along and train in a safe space.
Ele said: “I started the business to help other mums get that motivation back and get their self esteem up through exercise.
“I went on the show to encourage other women too. I’m a hysterical crying mess by the end of the show when the other contestants said something nice!
“I would never have put myself forward for the show a while back, because I didn’t have that self confidence.
“When you’ve had children and stopped working, in so many ways it’s fantastic, but you also doubt yourself going back into the working world.
“Having children changes your life for the better, but no parenting manual will ever prepare you.
“You see in the episodes that retraining as a fitness instructor has given me a passion for something new and going on the show has helped me build up that self confidence.”
The Come Dine With Me episodes will air from Monday, August 12 at 5pm.