Getting Personal with Michael Eckford

 If you’re a British Columbian with a TV, then you’ll need no introduction to Michael Eckford. Beloved co-host of Shaw TV’s Urban Rush, he’s perhaps best known for his quirky charm, quick wit and hilarious banter with co-host Fiona Forbes. No doubt, this pair is among BC’s most dynamic and beloved TV duo. In their 13 years together, they’ve conducted thousands of interviews with the celebrities we all want to know about (oh and did we mention he’s also on our panel of judges for this year’s Hands-On Cook-Off contest?)  Seeing Eckford’s life in the spotlight, it’s not easy to imagine him at home with his wife and three kids making pancakes! Here, we reach out to Michael to find out more about his life behind the scenes: balancing home and career; what inspires him; and of course, what he likes to eat. We hope you enjoy this interview as much as we did!

BT: How did you get into the world of television and what led you to team up with Fiona and become the amazing TV personality you are today?

ME: I took a very round about journey to TV. I worked in the construction industry for years despite being surrounded by media. My big brother is (and was) in radio and I had the opportunity to start watching him at work and fell in love with the idea of working indoors without carrying heavy pieces of lumber!

When I made the decision to transition careers, I knew I would only be successful if I had an honest willingness to out-work people. I volunteered, interned, took everyone that would give me the time of day out for coffee and worked my butt off...for free. Having a stubborn belief in myself helped too! Eventually, I got the chance I needed and never looked back. My first paid job, 15 years ago, was with some crazy girl named Fiona Forbes (talk about a great TV name) who was for me the best working partner a person could ask for.

BT: What’s your favourite part about being a TV personality?

ME: This is an interesting question. There are some undeniably cool perks. The best is that we meet amazing people and get to really have some time to get to know them. Usually, a guest is in our studio for a couple of hours and we have the opportunity to spend lots of time talking to them outside the actual interview. It is truly inspiring meeting and talking to people who are living their dreams and passion every day. I also really like the clothes I get to wear!

BT: How do you balance the heavy demands of a TV/public personality career with having a family?

ME: The key to this is that I work within a company that really values the balance of work and family. I'm better at my job because I have a lot of time with my wife and kids. My wife also makes sure she has that balance. We really do focus on the fun of being part of a family. Even the most exhausting days have beautiful moments of laughter, tenderness, and fun. Like all kids, my children care very, very little about what I do when I'm not with them!

BT: Do you have any family meal traditions in your home? (Like Sunday dinners, Pizza Friday?) What does a week in the life of you look like?

ME: Family meals are absolutely key for us. Both my wife and I grew up in families that revolved around the dining room table and we have continued this with our kids. Breakfast is made together. During the week, favorites include oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, and the classic cereal and toast. Then on the weekends, it's Whole Wheat Raspberry Pancakes one day and waffles the next. The kids love getting involved in the prep.

Dinner is always at the table and now that the boys are old enough (four and two) we all eat together. Sometimes they're eating a simple version of whatever we made for ourselves (they don't like sauces much) but it's always together.

Finally, on Sundays we have a formal dinner with the kids’ grandparents. This is all about Roast Beef and gently teaching the kids about manners!

BT: Sounds fun! Do you have a fave family recipe to share?

ME: The favourite family recipe is definitely the weekend Whole Wheat Raspberry Pancakes. The whole wheat makes the pancakes healthier and you won't notice any difference between this version and the standard pancakes. My daughter (she's thirteen) can make the recipe from memory and the boys help with the measuring, mixing and tasting. Sometimes it's a bit messy. My most common saying during the prep is "keep it in the bowl, boys" but they really love getting involved.

Whole Wheat Raspberry Pancakes

1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder

2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Raspberries (frozen work) to taste

Mix together the dry ingredients, make a well in the center and set aside.
Mix together the wet ingredients and pour into the well in the dry ingredients. Mix until combined but still a bit "lumpy". Stir in raspberries and cook, flipping once until brown on both sides. If you use frozen raspberries, it slows the cooking time so leave them on a little longer to make sure they cook through.

Pour on some syrup, and if you're feeling decadent fry up some bacon and enjoy!

Seriously, so great chatting with Michael Eckford! We’re so thrilled he’s on our judging panel for this year’s contest. If anyone gives this recipe a try, let us know what you think here!  And of course, we’d love if you would submit one of your own family recipes here!

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