First Dates’ Fred Sirieix – ‘What counts is kindness – focus on what matters’

Fred Sirieix has detailed how fronting Channel 4's First Dates, which celebrates a 10 year milestone this year, has made him re-evaluate what is truly important in life during a chat with New this week.

“Everyone is different and yet we’re all the same. We’re all looking for that respect and acceptance,” he says. “There’s beauty in being open and not judgemental. This is when we really appreciate life and people for who they are.”

The show started in 2013, following romantic hopefuls as they meet for dinner for the first time, with Fred welcoming them to the First Dates restaurant. We’ve been treated to some hilarious moments as well as tender scenes, but one thing is for certain – everyone is eager to fall head over heels in love.

Recalling one of the funnier moments on the show, Fred, 51, says, “When we first started, there was this couple, both dancers in their 20s. They instantly connected and fancied one another. They were talking about aphrodisiac foods and she said she didn’t think oysters counted, but that olives did – and then went on to eat them very suggestively. It was the funniest thing.”

But the show has also taught Fred that life is not always a fairy tale. “People go on dates and they say they want this or they want that, but when they have people sitting in front of them, they can’t see it because they’re caught up in a fantasy world of what they’re expecting. If people focused more on what matters, which is kindness and being genuine, then I think it would work much better.”

He adds, “We’re all on different stages of a journey and it doesn’t mean that if you embark on that journey earlier you’re going to be any better. What really counts is kindness, being true and having people’s back. Honesty and integrity is what matters. We should always just take people for who they are. The show is a great reminder of what is important in life.”

Swapping his tux for a trowel, Fred is set to deep dive into another passion of his – gardening. He’ll be judging this year’s B&Q Gardener of the Year competition, in which winners can bag a whopping £10k.

Fred is right behind the entrants. He says, “I can tell beauty when I see it. I’ve done lots of competitions, but more based in the restaurant world. This is about the beauty and impact of a show-stopping garden. I predict some tough arguments [between the judges] because I’m sure we’ll all love different things – but I’m really looking forward to it.”

Fred, who grew up in Limoges, France, might be a man of the kitchen at heart, but don’t expect him to start growing veg any time soon – that’s a job for his dad, Claude.

“I’m into the beauty garden, not the vegetable thing. I mean, not yet. Dad does that. I’ve got a lovely fruit and veg shop near where I live. I don’t have the patience for growing potatoes and tomatoes. I just like to go in the garden and look at the flowers. I get a lot of pleasure from it.”

The B&Q Gardener of the Year competition aims to find gardens that show heart, soul and a passion for the outdoors, and Fred is well aware of the difficulties gardeners face.

“Last summer was really good, but at the same time it was very hot and we had the water ban, which was a bit of a stress. But my garden did look beautiful,” he says.

“And then this winter, because of the extreme cold and frost, I’d say more than 50% of what I planted has died. The garden looks like World War I!”

Fred tells us he finds plants “very therapeutic” and when he’s not working he’s “in the garden every single day”. And he has a soft spot for Brenda… his beloved palm tree.

“I planted her a couple of years ago and my son Lucien, 12, called her Brenda. After a frosty winter I’ve been in two minds whether to cut her down. Then two weeks ago the leaves came back out and Brenda is alive!” he laughs.

There’s a Great British Garden Party theme to this year’s Gardener of the Year competition, which tied in nicely with the nation’s coronation celebrations.

Fred had been planning a barbecue, but it was sadly rained off. Otherwise a suckling pig, fit for a king, was on the menu.

“I would have marinated it with herbs – some sage, some rosemary, parsley, tarragon – a bit of olive oil, a bit of garlic and roast it slowly for about three hours. I would cook the King this. You can serve it whole on the table so it’s very impressive.”

Fred, a trained chef who moved from the kitchen to working front-of-house in a Michelin-starred restaurant in France before relocating to London, is also a super-proud dad at home. His daughter, Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix, 18, is a champion diver who is gearing up for the Olympics in Paris next year. She competed at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last year as part of Team GB and won a gold medal.

“She’s finishing her A levels this year and at the same time she’s in Canada for the second leg of the World Cup, so it’s very exciting. For me, she’s so inspiring, she’s so dedicated.”

Asking if we would see him and his mysterious fiancée, who viewers only know as Fruitcake, back on Celebrity Gogglebox, he says, “I mean, it’s what we do, we watch TV and we talk rubbish and make each other laugh. Fruitcake is very funny, so you never know.”

Fancy meals aside, he’s really just like us in front of the telly. “I love dunking chocolate biscuits in my coffee. I can never stop though and go through the whole box.”

Fred is part of the judging panel for the B&Q Gardener of the Year 2023. Gardeners can enter in four categories – whatever your garden’s size or budget. The theme is The Great British Garden Party, with £10,000 up for grabs. Visit to enter. Competition closes at 12pm 23 June.


  • Click here for today's top showbiz news
  • Iconic Coronation concert in pictures: Olly Murs, Nicole Scherzinger and Lionel Richie perform

  • Paloma Faith fans ask if singer has raided Sam Smith's wardrobe for Coronation concert

  • Stacey Solomon's plan to extend £1.3m Pickle Cottage 'rejected' by council

  • Gino D'Acampo 'caught with cannabis' after flying with Gordon Ramsay on private jet

Source: Read Full Article