I have six kids and at this stage … getting them to eat is a challenge’
“MY interest in food started after I stayed with my uncle Tom in London when I was 12 years old. He was a former chef and so passionate about food. We had a meal at the Ritz Hotel and I went, ‘I want to be a part of that’. Then when I was 13, me and another guy you may have heard of, Curtis Stone, were the dunces in our Mandarin Chinese class. We were just no good at it. So we were given the option of doing either woodwork or home economics instead. Home economics involved us going to a girls’ school. We looked at each other and went, ‘We know what we’re doing!’ And that was it. I’ve loved food ever since.
I love working in an industry where you touch almost everyone. You touch all of these people who are basically coming in to see you over a meal. I get such a buzz out that, being able to feed someone. It makes us realise what’s really important in life. Life should be family – and part of family is food and great meals which develop into memories.
I have six kids and at this stage none of them are interested in being in the kitchen. In fact, getting them to eat is a challenge – cooking a meal at home sometimes involves cooking about four or five meals!
But my eldest, my nine-year-old daughter, has been travelling with me a bit and has started to develop a really great palate. She came to Hong Kong with me recently and she absolutely loved trying new things. When you get to the age of nine or 10 … your palate starts to recognise what amazing things you can discover. I’ll let you know how the other five go in a couple of years!
Madeleine [West], my partner and I love cooking – it’s one of our passions. We enjoy healthy things, food that has come straight off the farm. For us salads are important. We try to do roast meats and keep things separate [for the kids].
And we love baking, particularly on the weekend. Madeleine has been incredible in her evolution of baking and making desserts. Probably my favourite would be apple tarte tatin – great caramelised puff pastry with beautiful caramelised fruit.
Marco Pierre White has been a mentor to me in the kitchen over the years. He’s always been the underdog – he was someone who wasn’t meant to succeed and then food found him and made him into who he is. I took a lot of inspiration from that – the concept that if you’re passionate, believe in what you do and put in the hard work then it will happen.”
STARTS THIS WEEK ON TEN