TOM PARKER BOWLES:
Breaking from ilming a new series of Family Food Fight, Tom Parker Bowles tells Juliet Rieden about the joys of stepdad Prince Charles’ veggie patch.
family favourites from the British foodie
Tom Parker Bowles says his love of food stems “entirely from greed. I just love eating!” And though he’s laughing, Tom’s really not joking. In Britain the 43-year-old son of Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, is a celebrated food critic and writer, and for two months of the year he hops over here to work for the Nine Network as a judge on the home cooking TV reality show Family Food Fight.
Food is Tom’s day job but there’s no question it’s also his passion, lling every waking hour. “There’s nothing I’d rather do for ve hours with a glass of wine on a Saturday than make curry paste – I love chillis – and just start cooking, cooking, cooking,” he beams. “My children – Lola, 10 and Freddy, eight – get furious with me because the moment I get up in the morning I say, ‘when shall we have lunch and what shall we have for dinner?’”
That all-consuming greed started with devouring his mum’s cooking and then feeling its lack when faced with grim English boarding school food. “We grew up in the country on a farm. My wife pales when I mention my mum’s roast chicken again but it is a dish that I loved. We had lots of roasts, pies, stews. We grew up with all those buzz words that they use now like seasonal and organic. We knew that asparagus came in late spring, peas and strawberries came in summer, game and mushrooms in autumn. Then I was sent to boarding school when I was eight and the food was really genuinely disgusting.”
Tom’s own prowess in the kitchen didn’t develop until after university. “I was living in London and it was always good to be able to invite a girl round to dinner and cook for them. It was a sort of a chat up line, I suppose.”
Tom says he still goes to his mum’s home, Ray Mill in the Cotswolds, for lunch but that mum and son never cook together. “We argue in the kitchen. If we were on Family Food Fight we’d last ve minutes.”
Instead, for quality time Tom goes out to restaurants with his mum every couple of weeks. And as a cook he says the brilliant perk of having the Prince of Wales in his family is the incredible veg he’s gifted from the royal’s organic patches. “Prince Charles has the most amazing vegetable gardens. When we go up to Birkhall in Scotland, the great treat for the children is picking the peas and broad beans straight off the stem.”
Tom’s tasty favourites
The noodle dish (opposite) is probably the meal I cook more than any other, and we eat it at least twice a week at home. You can use whatever vegetables you have to hand – it even makes that ridiculous baby corn look useful. The key is a balance between the hot, sour and salty.
I love the Rhubarb and Ginger Crumble because I’m not a pastry man. A maker of the stuff, I mean, rather than an eater, which I most certainly am. Too much precision needed. You don’t want the topping too thick: no more than half an inch. It should flatter and add contrast to the soft filling, not overwhelm it.