James Martin – the friendly face of Saturday Kitchen Live
– talks to us about his culinary inspirations, what
live TV is really like, and reveals all about his new range of sturdy bakeware products…
What first drew you towards a career as a chef?
I was influenced massively by my grandmother and mother, who were both fantastic cooks. I watched them cook from a very young age.
Was it a hard transition to become a TV presenter?
Yes definitely – due to dyslexia, reading the autocue is an ongoing problem!
Who is the best, or your favourite, guest that you’ve had on Saturday Kitchen Live?
The best celebrity guest was Jackie Collins, she was amazing! She loved being on the programme. We’ve had a few people like that on the show, who are Hollywood glam but end up loving it. She was the most unusual by far, but also the best interview.
We have to ask – what is your food heaven and food hell?
Hell is horseradish, heaven is langoustine.
And how quick are you at the omelette challenge?
Believe it or not I’ve never actually done it!
Have you ever had any major disasters on TV?
Quite a lot. Live TV is always a risky
one – occasionally a guest will let the
odd swear word slip out. In terms of the food, one of the reasons I like using tools
I know is because generally I get the results I’m expecting.
If you could be another chef for a day, who would you be?
I would be Pierre Koffmann, as what he’s achieved for the UK food scene has never been repeated. He was the guy that got three Michelin stars in three consecutive restaurants, and to me he is not appreciated and respected enough. But ask anybody that has ever worked for him, and it’s another story. I also admire Michel Roux Sr – they are both legends of the food world.
What do you think is the most essential baking recipe that everyone should master?
It would be a Victoria sponge – if you can do this well, then you can do a lot of others too. When you start out with baking, it’s really important to trust the recipe. You also need to understand the recipe before you tweak it. Too many people make changes when they haven’t got a clue how to make the original in the first place! You’ve got to learn to walk before you can run, and people often become too adventurous before they’ve grasped the recipe. That’s true of all forms of food – although especially in baking. Only once you understand the mechanics of the recipe, and why each ingredient is in there, can you take it forward.
What piece of kitchen kit do you think most helps a home cook?
If you are into baking, then a food mixer. In general, a good set of sharp knives is a must.
Your restaurants seem very focused on British food. What does British cuisine mean to you?
As a farmer’s kid, British cuisine was always going to be top of the list, but it has really changed and improved over the last
40-50 years. I think we are now one of the world leaders of food, and rightly so.
What’s the next big baking trend?
It will be ingredients more than anything. In the industry, we seem to use stuff that isn’t available in the shops yet.
Can you tell us about your new bakeware range?
The range is purposely designed for the job. So, for example, the trays won’t buckle while baking, and the cake tins won’t warp. You want your bakeware to outlast you, just like the kitchenware Gran used to buy. So that’s what we’ve done. It’s lovely thick bakeware that you can rely on.
What’s your favourite way to end a meal?
Lately, to fall asleep as it is definitely a busy year! But I always enjoy relaxing with a good glass of red or an ice cold beer.
What’s your favourite gadget from the James Martin collection?
The Lamina Saucier pan, as I like using it for sauces and its good for sugar work too.
Any more plans for the future?
There are a few more series in the pipeline, but as I write this I am filming a new series of Home Comforts. I’ll also be following it with an accompanying cookery book.
For more information on James Martin’s range of bakeware, visit www.stellarcookware.co.uk