My earliest food memory is chocolate ‘concrete’ cake and pink custard. My Nan and Grandad used to have it delivered by ‘meals on wheels’ every Wednesday. I must have only been about 5 years old. I didn’t realise at the time the reason why they always saved it for me and my sister. Years later my mum explained that because my grandparents had false teeth they couldn’t eat the cake! I loved it even with a skin, custard was still delicious!
Food that’s trending for you
In the past I had a massive aversion to anything that tasted of coconut (other than a Bounty Bar). So I was never a fan of Thai cuisine. Following a chance encounter with a Thai Green curry about 6 months ago I now am a total convert. I can’t get enough of all things Thai and fusion! Whilst I will never be vegetarian or vegan I do love the ‘plant-based vibe’ at the moment. The freshness, textures, colours and flavours are so great I don’t miss the meat. Between three and five of my meals every week are now meat-free.
Favourite place to eat
I am a total carnivore and cannot resist an amazing steak (and a glass of red wine). Hawksmoor stands out for Will & Huw’s unwavering commitment to great British grass fed beef and their knowledgeable, enthusiastic and friendly staff. They’ve got a Northern outpost in Manchester so I am a very happy man. I love Scotland and Edinburgh in particular. We always look in on Tom and Mic at The Kitchin if we can. We’ve had the most amazing Sunday brunch with the kids at their Scran & Scallie pub in Stockbridge. Tom’s ‘from nature to plate’ ethos shows through in every dish.
Most memorable meal
Working in this industry I have eaten many memorable meals. They include Michelin starred establishments, staff restaurants and hospitality in landmark buildings along with many local and neighbourhood restaurants. My stand out meal was at Ora D’Aria in Florence. The chef patron Marco Stabile is a genius of Italian cuisine and a true gentleman. It was our last ‘adults only’ trip before we welcomed our daughter after a long journey to parenthood. It was a significant as an amazing Valentine’s dinner in a beautiful city. And it was the last time we dined without worrying about getting back for a childminder or thinking about the children if we are away.
My ideal dinner guests
My ideal dinner guests would be my mum, wife and kids. I lost my mum when I was very young so I’d love her to meet my family. To see her together with them chatting, laughing, eating and getting to know each other would be magical. I’d do all the cooking, so best to have a doctor there too!
Given our busy household my cookbook inspiration is Jamie & Joe’s Meals in Minutes. Family eating tips from Lorraine Pascale and Lisa Faulkner are always good. For special entertaining I like Tom Kitchin’s, Kitchin Suppers which is amazing or ‘How to Eat In’ by Adam Byatt. The pages have both become a bit dog-eared over the years. My wife Debbie is an awesome baker so the kitchen book cupboard (we outgrew the shelf) is overflowing with baking books and recipes.
Three items always kept in your fridge
The three items I always have in my fridge are Champagne, I am always ready for a celebration. Cheese, this could be strong cheddar, parmesan or stilton. And Little Miss Hug & Mr Bump bruise soothers, I am prepared for every eventuality.