My life in food: Tom Kerridge

 

Tom Kerridge is the chef/patron of The Hand and Flowers in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, Britain's only two Michelin-starred pub.

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

My most used piece of kitchen equipment is my Nespresso coffee machine, which I've had for a couple of years now. I'm a huge coffee drinker. I drink espressos all the time, probably about four pints of the stuff a day. The least used piece of kit in my kitchen at home is my oven. I'm generally always at work – from about 9.30am to 12.30am – so the that last thing I want to do is go home and cook dinner; it'd be like taking the office home. I do cook the odd roast, though.

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

I'd go to Waitrose and pick up its party snack selection. You get two traditional pork pies, two pork and onion pies and two sausage rolls. I'd probably pick up some Colman's mustard, too, for smearing on top. I really like tradition British classics. I try to recreate familiar English foods in the restaurant, but take them forward a little.

What do you eat for comfort?

I haven't got a sweet tooth, so not chocolate or anything like that. I prefer savoury. Cheese on toast is what I probably eat most often for comfort. A couple of slices with strong Montgomery cheddar or some Gloucester cheese, and always lots of Worcestershire Sauce. The bread you use doesn't really matter, it's just a vehicle for the cheese.

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

Although I love the beautiful sourdough we get from The Bread Factory for the restaurant, I'd have to say I'd go for potatoes. You can do so much with them. Baked potatoes are amazing, mash I like, too, and crisp roasties are especially nice at this time of year. And in the summer you have new potatoes.

What's your desert island recipe?

Slow roast shoulder of lamb would be my choice. You take a whole shoulder of lamb on the bone, stuff it with garlic cloves and thyme leaves, then sprinkle with salt and roast on a low heat for 5 to 6 hours.

What's your favourite cookbook?

There are so many around to choose from at the moment. But the one that really inspired and encouraged me was White Heat by Marco Pierre-White. Marco was like the Gordon Ramsay or Heston of his day. He was so cool and cutting edge and smoking about 100 Marlboro Red a day – at 19, he blew my mind. The book, with all those beautiful Bob Carlos-Clark photos, really made me want to be a chef.

Who taught you to cook?

Jon Bentham. He trained under Gary Rhodes and is the unsung hero of cooking in Britain in the 1990s. He taught me to respect cheap cuts of meat and explore modern ingredients. And to keep on your toes – he always seemed like he had ants in his pants.

What advice would you give to aspiring chefs?

You have to have a thick skin and know how to work. You need a really strong work ethic and to be able to push on and drive on through every day in the kitchen. And also: get a pair of Birkenstocks – you're never off your feet.

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