My life in food: Simon Rimmer, chef

'There's nothing like dry-roasting spices and grinding them by hand'

Rimmer is co-presenter of Channel 4's Sunday Brunch, along with Tim Lovejoy. He rose to prominence when he opened Greens, a vegetarian restaurant in Manchester, in 1990. He has written four books, the latest being The Seasoned Vegetarian (Mitchell Beazley). He recently worked with Kenwood to help find the ultimate 50 food experiences. Kenwood's Food Lover's Bucket List is free to download now.

What are your most and least used pieces of kitchen kit?

I use a pestle and mortar a lot. One of my great joys is creating curry pastes and sauces. There's nothing quite like dry-roasting spices and then slowly grinding them down by hand. I never use my vegetable spiraliser, those things that turn your veg into spaghetti-like strips. But my kids love it. Whatever we cook, they want to garnish it with "vegetable spaghetti"

If you had only £10 to spend on food, where would you spend it and on what?

I'd buy a British cheese. I think we have the best in the world. So I would get some extra mature Montgomery cheddar and some Mrs Kirkham's crumbly Lancashire. And then I'd probably finish with some Ravens Oak goats' cheese. I am assuming here that I am still allowed to have my lavender or charcoal biscuits, and a good selection of chutneys.

What do you eat for comfort?

I find that, the more recipes I write, the more it changes. I still love a roast dinner. If you are feeling a bit low and blue there is little better than a good bit of British roast beef, potatoes and gravy. I also can't get enough of pulled pork rolls.

If you could eat only bread or potatoes for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

I'd go for bread. There are so many. You have flat bread on one level, then you also have rye on another. And in between you have all the artisan sourdoughs, and flavoured breads, naan and pitta. Of course, then you could eat bread and butter pudding.

What's your desert island recipe?

Curry. If I had to narrow it to one, I'd go for a spicy lamb saag balti. I am assuming, once again, that I would have naan, pilau rice and as much Cobra as I could drink, too.

What is your favourite restaurant?

Slanted Door in San Francisco. I had a guy who worked for me 20 years ago and he used to eulogise it all the time. So I had this huge ambition to go there. But then Bill Clinton visited it and it was immediately booked up for about six years. Eventually though, they moved to bigger premises and I managed to get a table. And it was magnificent – it was the most delicious pan-Asian cooking. The pork belly and bergamot and the orange candy floss dessert were absolutely brilliant.

What's your favourite cookbook?

Leith's Cookery Bible. I bought it years ago and still use it with my children now. From basic tomato sauces to improving your pastry – it's all there for them.

Who taught you to cook?

My dad's family were from Lake Como and they had a really strong food culture. And my mum's family, all from Liverpool, used to make the most fantastic British dinners. I was always around food.

Life and Style
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