I’ve been thrashed in the public eye for 15-odd years now so I think I’m a bit desensitised
“THIS [show] isn’t just some elaborate, clever ruse to get a bunch of celebrities I like to come hang out with me for a bit in the kitchen. This is our way of bringing a bit of a Top
Gear feel to food. It’s a magazine approach, making it fun and exciting. It also has a nice heart and soul, framing food in a slightly different way.
My best mate Jimmy is a zoologist and biologist and has his own career doing sort of science and farming stuff.
He adds a food science element to the show and I handle the cooking.
Then we have a few special celebrity guests to share in the fun and share a meal that’s special to them. We do it all in a pop-up cafe in Essex on Southend Pier. It’s where I grew up.
The recipes in it aren’t necessarily about being accessible or everyday – it’s about epic, undeniably awesome food. You can do it, but it’s awesome, and we’ll show you how.
With the celebrities, I think you get a better interview when you’re cooking with them. They open up and relax and they’re very present. We take the cue from them in terms of what we cook. We go to a big effort to make it work too.
One time we had a guest tell us about this place in Thailand that had an incredible pad thai, so we sent a local researcher to track down this shack.
They took pictures and did interviews … then we re-enacted the dish. It was really special.
That’s what food is to people – it’s special. It has a personal nostalgia too, like music, and unlocks memories and feelings. It’s really nice.
I don’t easily get star struck – I’ve been thrashed in the public eye for 15-odd years now so I think I’m a bit desensitised. But I definitely get genuinely excited, if that counts. By the time they come on the show, I’ve researched that special meal of their life to such an extent that I feel like I know a different side to them, almost.
Loads of our guests come on and then afterwards send a card thanking me for the experience, saying how much it meant. That doesn’t happen often.
While it’s definitely fun, we try to raise discussion about food issues. We try to be quirky about it. Like with wonky veg, or ugly produce – stuff that’s perfectly fine but doesn’t look pretty.
And most of all I love that I get to do it all with my mate, Jimmy, who I’ve known since I was one.
We have a real laugh together and it’s quite a natural relationship, which I think gives the show a certain feel.”