The celebrity chef on cooking, keeping fit and getting the kids in the kitchen.
As self-explanatory as the title is, tell us what your latest cookbook, Outdoor Cooking, is all about…
“Outdoor Cooking is a book for those who love to barbecue and for those who fancy giving outdoor cooking a go. It’s a book full of my favourite recipes to cook with friends and family outside, be it on a beach, around a campfire or simply in your back garden.”
What’s the one recipe everyone should try from the book and why?
“I love all of the recipes, but a particular favourite is the Beef Suya Skewers. It’s a West African-inspired spicy peanut mix that coats the beef and honestly takes it to another level – you have to try it!”
You’ve launched your latest venture in Harrods’ dining hall, Kerridge’s Fish & Chips. Why should we check it out?
“Well, first of all, it’s in Harrods! I remember first going into Harrods when I was a boy, and it was an incredible experience – I’ve never forgotten it. To have a fish and chip shop in the beautiful surroundings of the dining hall is a dream come true. Harrods is such an experience – so much more than a retail space – so I’m delighted to be able to offer the very best fish and chips I can in such a wonderful location.”
What do you say to the tabloid media reports that the prices are ‘eye-watering’?
“It’s funny how people are quick to judge the price of food but don’t necessarily link it back to the very best ingredients – not to mention the wonderful dining space, plus the very best staff and service. It’s not just about the price of ingredients – it’s so much more than that.”
You’ve a fair few restaurants under your belt – six at the latest count! Which one’s your baby and why?
“Yes, I have six restaurants now; The Hand and Flowers, The Butcher’s Tap and Grill and The Coach – all in Marlow. Then I have Kerridge’s Bar & Grill at Corinthia London, The Bull & Bear in Manchester’s Stock Exchange Hotel and Kerridge’s Fish & Chips in Harrods. I also have projects like Pub In The Park and a range of cookbooks and TV work. They are all my babies to be honest, but I guess my firstborn, The Hand and Flowers, will always be special for me. It’s my first business and my wife Beth and I worked so hard to get it off the ground and into the business it is today. We are so proud of its success.”
How do you manage to juggle it all, are you on the go 24/7?
“Yes, I am very much on the go all the time – I don’t sleep very much and I drive everywhere. In a week I could be up in Manchester one day, in Marlow the next and then in London. I spend a lot of time in the kitchens with the teams and I really love being busy!”
What about the mental strains – did staying at home during lockdown have any impact?
“I think lockdown affected people in different ways. For me it was a chance to spend time with my family, take stock of the business and to look at ways to help the local community. We set up Meals From Marlow, where we helped create over 100,000 meals for people in the local area. Out of a very dark situation, there are some really positive, heart-warming moments.”
You kept in shape during lockdown and have become a runner of late. Are you back in the gym, or is running your new exercise these days?
“I am a member of The Marlow Club and it’s also a benefit offered to my pirates too, but it’s been so important to escape mentally and recharge at the gym. I have actually spent a lot of time on weights and my Watt bike recently. It’s great for clearing the head and re-energising.”
Did you gain any Covid kilos or were you able to keep the weight off?
“I probably fluctuated a little over lockdown – who didn’t? I mainly just try to eat a well-balanced diet. I cook a lot with my son, so our kitchen adventures tend to be quite healthy.”
You’re at home, with the night off, but dinner needs making. Is it you or the wife that steps up – and what kind of food is on the menu?
“My wife is a great cook, but I tend to make something really quick and easy – I make a killer omelette! My son Acey is also getting more and more involved and interested in cooking. He even came up on the stage with me at Pub In The Park this summer which was awesome – we made a hotdog together!”
Having a chef dad must mean the pressure’s on for Acey to be anything but a fussy eater. Is that the case?
“Acey eats almost everything. I think the key with kids is to let them have their moments of fussiness without it being a big deal. Sometimes he likes something, sometimes he doesn’t. At the moment he doesn’t like sauce on anything, but I’m sure next month it will be something different!”
You’ve also been busy working with Marcus Rashford to help get young people to cook nutritious meals on a budget. How and why did you get involved?
“Marcus and I met at an event and got chatting. We were both on the same page about trying to help end child poverty. The statistics in the UK of 4.2 million kids going to bed hungry is shameful. We had to help, so we created Full Time Meals – a campaign to raise awareness for the Healthy Start Voucher, and to get kids cooking simple and easy-to-make meals with limited cooking equipment.”
You’ve even got your finger in another pie – your Pirate Ship podcasts with Chris Stark. As Keith Lemon would say, what’s the message?
“Yes, the podcast with Chris has been so much fun! We are looking at another series, but it’s all about eating food. We’ve had some great guests on the show, so I’m excited about what the next series holds – watch this space!”
Will that leave you with any time for a holiday? If so, where will you be heading and why?
“I tend to go skiing over the festive period. I love Courmayeur in Northern Italy because it’s so foodie.”
Finally, please tell us one secret fact no one has ever read about you before…until now.
“I have never seen a single episode of Game of Thrones!”
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