Phil was invited along with a few other local foodie bloggers to interview James Martin as part of the Leeds Loves Food Festival. However at the last minute Phil was called to an important business meeting so he despatched Dawn and I to represent The Globetroffers.
So on the hottest day of the year we set off to meet James at The Radisson in Leeds and not without a little trepidation we might add. The interview was quite informal and was covered via the Twitter bloggin site. James had just done a demonstration and entered the room in his chefs white jacket, jeans and Prada trainers looking every bit the Celebrity Chef.
The first question was from James to the rest of us “so what’s this Twitter thing?” we tried to explain but it was clear he wasn’t a twitter. The next question was from The Globetroffers and we asked “How do you get inspiration for new dishes as being a celebrity chef it would be hard to know their commercial viability and what sells/works?”, James was not happy with the celebrity tag and explained that people like Jordan (model, actress whatever…) were celebrities and that most chef’s were still professional chefs first. With regard to working in a restaurant James informed us that he was involved with 10 restaurants and worked closely with his chefs on new dishes and therefore the pressure is always present. As far as missing working in a restaurant a sample work schedule involved James in a 5 am start working until 11.30 am then being helicoptered to Leicester to oversee preparation of a BBQ lunch for 300 people followed by an event for 1100 people at Goodwood!! James added that in fact he had more opportunity to come up with ideas as he was always doing different things rather than being at a single restaurant.
James thinks that bad service is no excuse at any restaurant but things have moved on massively over the last 20 years. According to James, Tokyo is the gastronomic capital of the world followed closely by London then Paris (in that order). With so many chefs competing in London the overall ripple effect of great chefs moving out of London after their training and setting up good establishments in the rest of the UK is a great thing as James feels each chef then will try to promote local ingredients.
When in Yorkshire James will try to get Fish and Chips at Trenches in Whitby and always orders the same dish at Betty’s Tea Rooms, Welsh rarebit with extra cheese and bacon. Simple food is James’ mantra and at his recent birthday he had the dilemma of what to feed 150 people of whom some had probably 100 Michelin stars between them………….answer, fresh langoustines followed pizza baked in a wood burning oven (new toy) and then the ice cream van tips up!
James believes some of Yorkshire’s food and ingredients are the best in the world particular mention was made of rhubarb, fat rascals, Elizabeth Boothams cake shop and Colin Robertson of Skipton’s Lamb.
Amongst the more bizarre questions were;
Q. “If we were to taste you what would you taste of?”
A. “right now Christian Dior, sweat and the fresh mackerel I’ve just been cooking…”
Q. “After a good drinking session is it a kebab, KFC or McD’s?”
A. “KFC at least I could see what I was eating”.
Q. “Mac or PC?”
Back onto food and James is having his grandma’s old enamel grill (that doesn’t work very well fitted into his brand new kitchen because he wants to be able to make bacon sandwiches the way she used to in that old grill as that would be his meal of choice if it were to be his last meal.
Food heaven for James is smoked haddock and food hell is horseradish.
A tip for busy workers is James own pannini which consists of hollowing out a loaf of bread then layering with mozzarella and other delicacies then put it in the fridge slicing a layer off each day for a sandwich(full recipe is in the new book).
A tip for presenting food was white plates as chefs are like artists and treat the white plate as a white canvass. A large white plate with food just in the middle will focus the eye on the food.
Lastly for those that do not know James is a petrol head he has just treated himself with a new birthday present of the new Audi R8 V10, which was parked outside Harvey Nick’s being drooled over by envious guys!
We must say James came over as a very personable and genuine bloke that has not forgotten his Yorkshire roots it was a pleasure to meet him particularly as it was the first sorry James “celebrity chef” interview for the Globetroffers.
G & D.