Josephine Fairley: 'I like to think my Baileys drinking days are ahead of me'

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My earliest food memory... Sitting on the beach in Hastings with my great-grandfather, my great-aunt and an ice-cream, and being terribly upset because the wind blew the ice-cream out of the cornet and all over my bathing suit. That's not just my earliest food memory, it's my earliest memory full stop.

My store-cupboard essentials... Tamari soy sauce and Rocks ginger cordial: if you put the two together, you have a sauce that will make anything taste fantastic. Also brown rice, Whole Earth baked beans – known to be eaten straight from the tin – some light tahini and packets of red lentils, which I have a squirrel-like tendency to accumulate.

My favourite cookbook... A Middle Eastern cookbook called Saha by Lucy and Greg Malouf (Quadrille, £18.99). My husband's half-Syrian and I love Arabic food, so we prepare dishes from it quite a lot. It gives you a wonderful voyage around the region, looking at the cuisines of Lebanon and Syria, and it's also absolutely ravishing to look at.

My culinary tip... If you put balsamic and olive oil on almost anything then bung it in the oven, it's bound to taste nice. I learnt that from a lady called Tansy Evans when I went to a cookery demonstration she gave about 18 years ago. That demo changed my culinary life: up to that point I'd followed recipes, but she took the fear out of going off-piste.

My favourite food shop... My bakery, Judges [which I set up in 2005]. It brings together bread, cheese, wine, all the basics and fresh produce. Everything is organic, and most of it is local – it's the shop I always wanted to shop in, and it didn't exist [in Hastings] so I created it. I also love Alistair Little's deli Tavola in Notting Hill and Selfridges food hall, which has a fantastic Middle Eastern counter.

My top table... The Wolseley in Piccadilly. For a couple of years, I used it as my office. I'd go in at nine and leave at five, and people would come through the day; I'd be fairly caffeinated by the end of it! It's a stunning space, and I've never had a duff course there: they have great veggie food and I particularly like their chicory salad with blue cheese. They're also great with kids: I have three step-grandchildren and they absolutely love it.

My dream dining companion... Robert Redford. I like that he's an environmentalist, and I went to see Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid so many times over one half-term that the cinema manager gave me the poster when the run finished. I've been fortunate to meet a lot of people I've hero-worshipped, but he's the fish that got away.

My desert island dish... My spécialité de la maison, which is tofu soaked overnight in a mixture of tamari sauce, olive oil, white wine, Rocks ginger cordial, garlic and tons of grated ginger.

My guilty pleasure... I particularly enjoy going to Gatwick Airport as there always seems to be a promotional stand there handing out free Baileys. I have never drunk Baileys anywhere else, but it's delicious. I like to think my Baileys drinking days are ahead of me: when I can finally allow everything to go pear-shaped, it will be me and a bottle of that.

My ret hate... Celery, which my husband will chop up finely and sneak into various dishes. I have a Pavlovian loathing of it from school, when we used to have it braised and it would be overcooked and completely flavourless.

My tipple of choice... For the past 28 years, I've never had a drink between Sunday and Thursday, so on Friday night, I like a crisp, cold bottle of white wine as my reward for the working week. 1

A journalist, author and co-founder of Green & Black's, Josephine Fairley can be seen on ITV1's 'This Morning' searching for the UK's tastiest meat-free dish from 4 April. The winner, voted for on itv.com, will be announced on 11 April and become part of the Linda McCartney Foods range

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