THE words ‘cosy crime novel’ have been used to describe Rosemary Shrager’s new book, The Proof in the Pudding.

However, the TV chef and author doesn’t approve of the description.

“I hate the term and I’ll tell you why,” she states with characteristic candour.

“Murder is murder, it’s gruesome and horrible and never cosy, but I suppose what I don’t do is dwell on the depressing, dark psychological aspects. I try and keep it straightforward, more light-hearted,” says Shrager who is an avid fan of the crime genre.

“I’ve always loved murder mysteries, Vera, Miss Marple, Poirot, Shetland, I love them all. I’m fascinated by people’s lives. You never know what secrets are there, behind the scenes and that is what I enjoy. But I only started writing because Covid lockdowns gave me the time. My agent knew it was something I’d wanted to do and said, 'Why don’t you give it a go?'” reveals Shrager who recently turned 72.

Following the publication of The Last Supper last year, The Proof in the Pudding is her second work of fiction.

Although no stranger to writing cookbooks, she admits it has been an entirely different process, and tougher than she imagined.

“It was so hard; I can’t tell you. I had help to show me the way, otherwise I would never have been able to do it. It’s one thing having a story and another putting words on paper correctly, but as with anything, it becomes easier the more you do it. Plus, I draw upon what I know,” she says.

It why the series protagonist, Prudence Bulstrode, is a chef.

“She has to be, and I gave her the campervan because I have always wanted one. I just wanted her quite quirky, a modern Miss Marple type. She gets a bee in her bonnet if she finds something is not quite right, like a recipe that’s missing something, she can’t stop herself, and that is like me,” notes Shrager who has set the murderous action in the fictional village of Scrafton Busk in Yorkshire. It is a part of the world she knows well.

Not only did her mother’s family hail “from Scarborough way,” but she ran a cookery school at Swinton Park at Masham, near, Ripon until a few years ago.

Although she now lives in Wadhurst, East Sussex, her heart very much remains in the north of England.

“It’s very nice where I am now but totally different and I don’t have the same affinity with it as I do Yorkshire. It’s why I get back as much as I possibly can. I love Yorkshire,” says Shrager who was raised in London.

As a child, she had secret desire to become an actress (“I didn’t want to tell anyone, I was frightened to, because I remember thinking they wouldn’t think I was good enough”).

Instead, she went to art college, and specialised in interior design, but bubbling away was a desire to work with food, another childhood passion of hers.

She started doing company lunches for directors before setting up her own catering business and then relocated to Cornwall with her family (she had two children with Michael Shrager) where she worked at Jean-Christophe Novelli’s restaurant.

Shrager then moved back to the capital and worked under Pierre Koffmann at the Michelin star restaurant, La Tante Clare, in Chelsea.

It was an invaluable learning curve, but also “very tough” she recalls.

“Being a chef isn’t for the fainthearted, especially a female chef. You have to stand up to these rather chauvinistic young men. It’s changed now and there are a lot more women, but the hours are still ridiculous, there is very little social life, but it is also very rewarding- and it is fun. If you love it, you have got to do it,” says Shrager.

Later, she worked as head chef at Moyns Park in north Essex before moving to the Isle of Harries in the Outer Hebrides to take up a position at Amhuinnsuidhe Castle where she set up a cookery school.

Not long after, her TV career began to take off with guest appearances followed by her own series, Castle Cook, on Channel 5.

“I was desperate to be on television. Maybe I’m a show-off, but I don’t think so. It’s not to do with ego, I just love performing. It’s why I love travelling about and doing cooking demonstrations. I just come alive when I’ve got a camera in front of me.”

She has rarely been off our screens over the last two decades, endearing herself to viewers with a vivacious no-nonsense approach on cooking shows and reality TV.

Highlights include Ladette to Lady in the mid-noughties (“it was eye opening and humbling”), I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here in 2012 (“tough-and boring, but I loved it”) and 2016’s The Real Marigold Hotel followed by a tour (“it was an incredible experience to travel the world”).

Shrager is now focusing on her third crime novel, which will be based in Cornwall, the online cooking tutorials that emerged out of lockdown, as well as continued appearances on TV and at festivals. She is also having a hoot on the Lunch and Laughs tour where she and other female celebrities shares stories over a glass of fizz.

And because that isn’t enough to be getting on with, she has also created her own line of pies, aptly named Rosemary’s Pies.

Like every venture she’s embarked on over the years, it’s been a labour of love.

“I was in the factory the other day using these huge paddles in the biggest casserole dish you have ever seen. It was a lot of fun but of course you just want everyone to enjoy them. That’s all I can think about. It’s the same with the books. But I will never stop trying to do things because nothing is easy in life. If it is easy, then something is wrong,” reasons Shrager who has zero desire to slow down, let alone retire.

“I’ve been through trials and tribulations, nothing has been straightforward, and it’s all taken slog and hard work, but I feel so privileged to do enjoy what you do. I like to be busy and to have lots of things on the go. So, I’m not going to stop working, no way. I have got a lot of years left in me yet.”

We quiz Rosemary on her love of Yorkshire ...

A place of personal significance?
“What is now Flamingo Parkland near Scarborough used to be owned by my great-grandparents. I went there with my cousin as I’d heard so much about it. Obviously, it was not like I imagined, as it has changed over the years, but funnily enough we met someone who knew my family.”

A must-do in the calendar?

“I adore the Great Yorkshire Show. I love to demonstrate there and be a part of it all.”

A place to call home?

“I absolutely adore Rudding Park hotel in Harrogate. They welcome you with open arms and make you feel so relaxed. They spoil me, really. It is home from home for me.”

A view that inspires?

“I used to walk a lot in the Dales. The scenery is so beautiful. I used to go on a lot of walks at one time, but not now. You get a bit older, don’t you.”

Your favourite thing about Yorkshire?

“I love the people - and I think the people get me, they understand me, whereas I’m a bit of an enigma [in Sussex].”

* The Proof in the Pudding by Rosemary Shrager (Constable, £18.99) is out now

* This article first appeared in Yorkshire Life magazine. The latest edition of Yorkshire Life is out now, available from newsagents and supermarkets across Yorkshire and  Subscribe at