Tom’s tak­ing us back to basics

In­spired by his own fam­ily, Miche­lin-starred chef Tom Ker­ridge tells Jenny Stal­lard why he’s on a mis­sion to get us back in the kitchen

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - FOOD -

Cook­ing can of­ten take a back­seat at home. With busy sched­ules, the dif­fer­ent likes and dis­likes of each fam­ily mem­ber to con­tend with, plus the ner­vous­ness that the thought of cook­ing from scratch can trig­ger, it’s all too easy to be­come a bit too re­liant on con­ve­nience food.

It’s a habit that Tom Ker­ridge is de­ter­mined to change, how­ever. With his new book and TV show, Fresh Start, the Miche­lin-starred chef is keen to get more of us back to cook­ing from scratch and make kitchens the true heart of the home again.

It might not seem easy, but it’s key to a health­ier 2019, he says.

“It’s quite hard to make that big step to lose weight and eat health­ier, if you don’t know how to cook,” ac­knowl­edges Wilt­shire-born Ker­ridge (45), who fa­mously shed 12-stone him­self.

“A lot of the recipes are in there to get peo­ple just cook­ing again; easy, quick pasta dishes,” he adds of his new book. “Things like a turkey sch­nitzel with coleslaw. Things to get you back into the rhythm of be­ing in the kitchen, but also, along­side the show, it be­comes about fam­ily. In­stead of tak­ing in­di­vid­u­als into the show, we’ve taken fam­i­lies and peo­ple who have a rea­son why they want to come back to the kitchen and cook.”

It’s about build­ing fam­ily life around food, notes the chef, who owns Miche­lin-starred Hand and Flow­ers pub in Mar­low. “What it’s done is en­cour­age peo­ple to spend time to­gether, and to spend time with their fam­i­lies and make it a hobby, to make food that tastes nice and the kids are in­ter­ested in. You’ve got to start kids young, get them in­ter­ested in where things come from.”

Ker­ridge’s own fam­ily in­spi­ra­tion just turned three years old in De­cem­ber... Since be­com­ing a dad to Acey, his son with wife Beth, the chef is even more con­scious of what he pre­pares and eats at home than ever. Al­though, he ad­mits: “I have the same prob­lems as ev­ery­body else. It doesn’t mat­ter if your dad is a Miche­lin-starred chef, if you want fish fin­gers for tea with baked beans, that’s it. I’ve learned — and I’m try­ing to teach my­self — that parental guilt is a mas­sive thing that ev­ery­body has, so it’s not just you.”

He proudly adds that Acey chose cu­cum­ber and car­rot from a buf­fet at a party (al­though he is al­lowed to en­joy the sausage rolls and crisps!). “If good food is part of your ev­ery­day life, there isn’t any­thing wrong with let­ting your kids have some­thing naughty ev­ery now and again.

“If they grow up think­ing that burg­ers and takeaway piz­zas is tea, then that’s wrong. But if you show them how to make pizza; that’s where you take con­trol of that.

“You’re putting the stuff on the pizza that you want to eat. It makes food fun and that’s great.”

You don’t have to re-stock the pans cup­board, he says, but hav­ing a good, sharp knife is an es­sen­tial. “If you buy bet­ter equip­ment, you might en­joy it more. If you’re re­ally good at DIY but you are work­ing with a re­ally cheap screw­driver and it keeps fall­ing apart, but then you buy a flash one, like an elec­tric one from a DIY shop and it makes your job eas­ier and smarter, it’s a bit like that for cook­ing equip­ment,” he ex­plains.

“You haven’t got to spend a lot of money — but the more you en­joy cook­ing, the more you’ ll spend be­cause it be­comes a great hobby, rather than it just be­ing a chore.

“Just cook­ing for your­self brings across many pos­i­tive re­sults in lots of dif­fer­ent ways, whether it’s weight loss or just your men­tal out­look of pos­i­tiv­ity, your skin feel­ing bet­ter, or work­ing to­gether as a fam­ily,” Ker­ridge adds.

“There’s lots of pos­i­tive side-ef­fects in cook­ing for your­self. You cook tea, it was de­li­cious; how great is that? Rather than, ‘I mi­crowaved tea, it was all right’.

“That leads to a new mind­set and makes you feel bet­ter. It’s not like we’re ask­ing peo­ple to climb Mount Ever­est here. It’s hav­ing a go at cook­ing.” Tom Ker­ridge’s Fresh Start by Tom Ker­ridge is pub­lished by Blooms­bury Ab­so­lute, £26. Tom Ker­ridge’s Fresh Start con­tin­ues on BBC Two on Wed­nes­day, Jan­uary 9 at 8pm

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