james martin
Thursday, 14 June 2012

First Impressions: James Martin

Food writer and broadcaster JAMES MARTIN developed an interest in food when he was 10, helping his father in the kitchens at Castle Howard. He is best known as the presenter of Saturday Kitchen on BBC One.

What are you working on at the moment?

Celebrating the opening of a new restaurant and the first anniversary of another. Meanwhile, Saturday Kitchen is moving set – a new one is lined up in four weeks' time.

When were you at your happiest?

Probably when I was 14 or 15, learning to be a cook. You didn't have a care in the world then. It was all about playing my Commodore C64; you used to get blisters on your fingers if you were very good at it.

What is your greatest fear?

There isn't really anything, except horseradish. I watch ER, I've got a pilot's licence and go flying. As a farmer's son, you don't have many fears in life. But horseradish is definitely my greatest fear – it's the food of the devil!

What is your earliest memory?

With my grandparents, on my granddad's veg allotment. I watered my plants yesterday in my veg garden and it just reminded me of when, 20 years ago, I was with my granddad, watering the tomatoes. You learn from your grandparents and parents about food. It brought back good memories.

Who has been your greatest influence?

Sounds daft, but probably my mother. She is the only person who is brutally honest with me. She is the first to phone me up after Saturday Kitchen to say, 'Your shirt doesn't match your trousers,' and all that kind of stuff. And my grandmother, if I could be 10 per cent of the person she was, then I'd be 100 per cent better at everything.

What do you most dislike about yourself?

Probably my weight, my size. It has its advantages being six foot three and stuff like that. My bottom doesn't get into race cars any more.

What is your most treasured possession?

My home. In my early career, I never had any money; I lived above a Chinese takeaway on £30 a month.

What trait do you deplore most in others?

The inability to listen.

Do you have a fantasy address?

St Barts in the Caribbean.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

My weight, again.

What is your favourite book?

The last book I read was Peter And Jane, Level B4 at primary school. I've never read a book from cover to cover.

What is your favourite film?

Anything with guns. I liked Bullitt, Steve McQueen – I'm a big fan of his.


Your favourite record or piece of music?

I have exactly eight songs. But Chris Botti, the trumpeter – he used to be a trumpeter for Sting – his album is brilliant.

Your favourite meal?

Sunday lunch at my mum's, definitely.

Who would you most like to come to dinner?

My grandmother. She was a huge influence on my life. She passed away 14 years ago. And my granddad – I could show him the allotment.

Which historical character do you most admire?

I met Nelson Mandela once and you kind of get the aura about him. There is something fascinating about him.

What is the nastiest thing anyone has ever said to you?

You've only got to look online! There is a reason in life that you never, ever Google yourself – ever. I don't bother to look. If people don't like you, they don't like you; I'm not bothered whether they do or don't.

Do you believe in aliens?

I do believe there is some weird stuff out there; it's generally called hotel room service.

What is your secret vice?

Red Bull. I have a can of Red Bull for breakfast and I have another can of Red Bull before I go to bed.

Do you write thank-you notes?

No, I've only just found out how to use my phone!

Which phrase do you most overuse?

Add a little bit of butter.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

A day off. I work seven days a week. I've been doing that for 15 years. Once, I took 11 days off and went to the Maldives, and I slept for four of them.

What would you like your epitaph to say?

Just add butter.

James Martin has teamed up with the Mushroom Bureau in a bid to get us to eat more mushrooms. He has created some fabulous fungi recipes, two of which can be found on our website:



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