Masterchef’s Theo Michaels on the quirky way he bought his first home

Author and chef Theo Michaels bought his first house in Crouch End (Picture: Getty Images)

These days, property buying in London is so expensive it has to be done with a partner.

But Theo Michaels’ first foray into property was done with Anna, his now wife, and his good mate Steve.

After competing on Masterchef in 2014, Theo resigned from his business of 15 years to follow his passion for food and is the founder of online meal-planning service

He’s also an award-winning author – his seventh cookbook is out later this year – and a resident chef on Channel 4’s Steph’s Packed Lunch.

When did you buy your first home?

We bought our first home in 2004. I say ‘we’ as there were three of us: me, Anna – my then girlfriend, now wife – and Steve, our then friend, now godfather to one of our kids.

So this was before Masterchef, when you were in the corporate world?

Yes, I owned a recruitment business with offices in London and Birmingham. Anna used to work from home a few days a week in her role as head of communication for a children’s charity, so we converted one of the bedrooms to an office.

Seeing what the world is now I can’t help but think we were at the leading edge of the working from home movement.

What was it like going three ways on a mortgage?

At the time, getting a mortgage wasn’t a problem – but huge deposits were. Steve, Anna and I had known each other for years and were already living together in a rental property so it felt very natural to pool our deposits and buy together. It worked out really well.

When Steve decided he wanted his own place, we simply got the flat valued, remortgaged and paid Steve for his share out of the equity giving him the cash to buy his own place – to be honest it couldn’t have worked out better for all of us.

What place did you go for?

Three-bed, second floor, Victorian flat in Crouch End, London. It was old, none of the walls were straight, the sash windows were so thin we had to pause the TV every time the bus passed outside because we couldn’t hear anything – but we loved it.

It had character, high ceilings and was situated opposite a park, and we love Crouch End.

Theo reached the semi-finals of Masterchef in 2014

Theo reached the semi-finals of Masterchef in 2014 (Picture: Mowie Kay)

What was it like when you bought it?

It was a wreck! It had a really weird layout where the toilet was crammed between two bedrooms. When you opened the door you had to walk about eight feet in a room that was the same width as the toilet – it looked like a one lane bowling alley. But we did something really cool.

First, we shifted the toilet forwards, to the door and opened up the bedroom in the space it created behind it, but that isn’t even the best bit. Years before we travelled through Japan – spoiler alert, Japan has incredible toilets – and we bought a Japanese-style toilet where the sink is built into the top.

What are your best memories of that place?

There are so many. I remember one time I brought home two live lobsters from a Chinese supermarket that I was planning on cooking that evening. Without much thought I threw ice into our bathtub and left the lobsters to clap about in the bath.

Well, I totally forgot about them. Anna came home from work, casually walked into the bathroom to take a shower and suddenly I heard this earth-shattering scream and remembered we were having lobster for dinner.

Tamzin Outhwaite is also a resident of Crouch End (Picture: Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Did you get the property bug?

Definitely, we’ve still got our flat in Crouch End, which we were lucky enough to keep when we moved to the ‘burbs to start our family.

We also invested in an off-plan property in a nearby area a decade ago and we did pick up a small overseas property with friends. Property is still one of the best long-term investments you can make.

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