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
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