John Whaite feared being ‘slaughtered’ by farmer after fleeing the country

Strictly Come Dancing star John Whaite went on a life-changing trip to Canada after enduring “bouts of all-consuming darkness” – and reignited his passion for cooking

Celebrity chef John Whaite opens up about secret battle with bulimia on Steph’s packed lunch

Strictly Come Dancing star John Whaite went on a life-changing trip to Canada after enduring “bouts of all-consuming darkness”

After winning The Great British Bake Off, John White struggled with his mental health.

The former Lorraine chef, who is competing in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing, has opened up about suffering from depression and “bouts of all-consuming darkness”.

Knowing he needed to escape, John decided to go on a life-changing trip to Canada.

For six weeks, he stayed on a remote 100-acre working farm in the pine-littered mountainside of Barrière, Canada

“That tranquillity was precisely what the doctor ordered, literally,” he wrote in Sainsbury’s Magazine.

“As someone who suffers from depression I’ve often had to endure bouts of all-consuming darkness, but this time around my needs were urgent.”

In change for bed and board he volunteered on the farm and became integrated into their lives – but he had some dark fears.

John went on the trip of a lifetime to Canada



John is taking part in this year’s Strictly



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“Of course I envisaged the worst – ‘Bake Off winner slaughtered by outback farmer in the Canadian wilderness’ – but still I was utterly compelled to take that flight to Vancouver,” he said.

“From there, a four-hour bus journey to Kamloops over the Coquihalla highway; a road so treacherous it sees around 500 accidents a year, many of which prove fatal.”

The entire house was heated by an outdoor log burner and was built entirely by the owners’ own hands.

Apart from shop-bought essentials, everything John ate during his time there came from within the boundary of the farm.

“The chores on the farm were a welcome distraction from my mental collapse,” said John.

John rediscovered his love of cooking


Manchester Evening News.)

His jobs included collecting eggs from the chickens, loading trailers with hay, feeding the pigs, cows and llama, and smashing the ice on the water troughs.

John became particularly close with the family’s enormous, fluffy Italian Maremma called Luke, who would share cuddles with him every morning and night.

But the lambs were not given names so that it would be easier to say goodbye when the time came to slaughter them.

The temperature outside would plummet as low as -26°C, which meant John spent a lot of time back in the kitchen rediscovering his love of food.

He swapped recipes with his host family, teaching their son how to make choux pastry and crème patissière.

In return, he introduced John to the Canadian staple, Nanaimo bars, then every night they would eat and ash the dishes together as a family.

“I look back on these memories with much fondness and gratitude. It took a freezing winter on a remote farm to rediscover the warmth of life and company,” added John.

“Out there in the wilderness I rediscovered who I am, and my conversation with food can now continue.

*Strictly Come Dancing airs tonight on BBC One at 7.05pm

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