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'When I was 14 at the Park Lane Hotel, I ruined 800 apple tarts for a wedding'

TV chef James Martin tells Lauren Taylor about childhood dinners and kitchen disasters


Cookery king: chef James Martin

Cookery king: chef James Martin


Dining al fresco: James cooking on a barbecue on the Isle of Wight

Dining al fresco: James cooking on a barbecue on the Isle of Wight


Cookery king: chef James Martin

James Martin might be one of the UK's favourite and longest-standing TV chefs, but that doesn't mean he hasn't had a few bumps along the way.

The 47-year-old Yorkshireman's latest recipe collection, James Martin's Great British Adventure, is the result of a culinary journey around the UK, during which he searched for the best of British produce from the Orkney Islands to the Isle of Wight, taking in Belfast, the north coast, Craigavon and Strangford Lough along the way.

We grilled him on some of his more personal memories...

My greatest culinary high was...

"They have this chefs' accolade, the Craft Guild of Chefs, for us it's the equivalent to the Oscars for chefs, and my peers nominated me for this special award.

"They give it out every year and people who have won it in the past are Raymond Blanc, Gordon Ramsay and Pierre Koffmann - some amazing chefs have won it, and I got it about four years ago.

"(Chef) Brian Turner invited me to the Dorchester (London) to hand out an award.

"I was sat there with the legend Pierre Koffmann, who is now a good mate, there were 1,500 people in the room, and I said to Brian, 'When are we presenting this award?' and then next minute the screen came up and the bugger had dragged me there under false pretences - I didn't realise I was going to get it. That was the one."

My biggest kitchen disaster has been...

"When I was 14, back at the Park Lane Hotel (where he had his first kitchen job), they had a restaurant called Basewells. We used to help out on functions and I burned 800 portions of apple tart for a wedding.

"I got my Fahrenheit and Celsius wrong. I couldn't remake them because the main course had gone out, but what a b********g! I don't think I've ever been b*******d like that before in my life. They got a dessert, but I think it was 100 of each dessert, so they had different ones. But yeah, I wasn't too happy."

My earliest food memory is...

"My mum really, cooking for me on the farm. We used to have a dining room table, centrepiece of the farm, a big oak dining room table.

"It was just all the people sat around the table: my gran, my auntie, my granddad, my uncle. My granddad used to have an allotment so he used to bring the potatoes, my uncle used to bring bits and pieces, my auntie was a great pastry chef so she used to bring a parkin (black treacle cake), it was all that every Sunday.

"We just used to sit down and have lunch and my mum would cook a roasting joint, every single Sunday."

James Martin's Great British Adventure: A Celebration Of Great British Food With 80 Fabulous Recipes by James Martin is published by Quadrille, £25

Belfast Telegraph