CELEBRITY MasterChef star Riyadh Khalaf says his Catholic mum and Muslim dad quit religion to become humanists when he came out to them.
And the YouTuber and BBC Radio 1 star, who uses stout and Arabian spices in his dishes, hopes their Irish and Iraqi cuisine tips will help him win the TV crown.
Explaining how coming out reshaped his family’s world, he told Guilty Pleasures: ‘Growing up with a Catholic mother and Muslim father as a secretly gay kid, it felt like a pressure cooker.
‘Even though I was drenched in affection by both parents, there was always that unspoken fear in my head, “What if I get disowned?” or I am sent somewhere to be converted or married in an arranged ceremony to try to make me straight.
‘It was a journey-and-a-half to orchestrate the perfect coming out story for mum and dad. It was tough for both for them.
‘My dad took a long time to come to terms with it. My mum and I gave him an ultimatum. Religion isn’t important.
‘We decided as a family we would let go of all religion. Our religion would become the love we have for each other. If you asked us now we would probably say we’re humanist.’
A blend of both his folks in the kitchen, Riyadh, 29, says: ‘I have picked up things from both sides, whether it’s an Irish stew or koftas and stuffed vine leaves.’
He also dreams of becoming one half of the first same-sex couple on Strictly. His gran was a semi-professional ballroom dancer and boyfriend Josh ‘trained as a Latin ballroom dancer, so I would have a coach at home’.
Meanwhile, he has received some TV pointers after striking up an unlikely friendship with Sky News host Kay Burley. She interviewed him after he fangirled about her on social media, and he ended up taking the 59-year-old to a gay bar.
‘We went for gins and partied at Freedom bar in Soho. She had come off air and was wearing her Sky News dress and was an absolute queen. Our friendship blossomed from there,’ he said.