PASSPORT - Travel - The Independent

PASSPORT

The TV chef has cooked all over the world, but his mum's baked beans didn't impress the Swiss

'm a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to food and travel, and I still think that France has so much to offer in terms of eating out. I'm excited by Far Eastern destinations and their cuisine, but my favourite food is French; to cook and to eat. The south-west of France, the Provencal region, and Gascony are fantastic. You can find confit de canard and armagnac foie gras as dishes in regular restaurants, and they don't cost the earth.

My favourite places to have worked as a chef were Mauritius and Bermuda. You can be up at five in the morning on the beach, in the kitchen at seven, out by nine back on the beach, then you're not back in the kitchen for dinner until after the sun goes down. It's the perfect environment to work in. I have a dream with a friend of mine, Clive, that we're going to buy a deserted island near Bermuda and build an exclusive hotel with just a handful of chalets. At one side of the island there would be Brian's Bar, open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and at the other side of the island there would be Clive's Bar, open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. On Sundays we would both take the day off and eat at the hotel. Visitors will have a running credit rating; actual money will be banned from the island, as will socks and ties.

My idyllic destination is Bali. Bali has to be the ultimate place to relax in luxury with a good friend. I once dined in the most beautiful restaurant in Bali which had completely open sides, a rattan roof and a warm breeze drifting through it on which you could smell the sea.

One of my first chef jobs as a young man was in Lausanne. My favourite memory of Switzerland was during the summer, sitting with my back resting on the wall of Castle Gruyeres, eating blackberries and Gruyeres cream with an American lady. There was no noise, no wind, just warmth, the sound of birdsong and a view of the valley rolling away into the distance.

The border of Italy and Switzerland wasn't as inspirational as I thought food-wise; just good honest produce, very simply cooked. But on the whole, as a young visitor, I was in awe of Switzerland. I lived behind an elegant hotel on top of some beautiful Swiss hills. Each morning, on my walk down the hill, I could see Lake Lausanne, across to Evian and in a gap between the mountains, Mont Blanc. Every morning this magnificent view would almost reduce me to tears. The Swiss boys thought I was very strange but you can't imagine what that view meant to someone who grew up in a small mill town in Yorkshire. I'm still friends with two of the Swiss chaps. I brought them back with me the Christmas I returned to England. We went from the airport to Leeds City Station then home to my mum who had cooked us beans on toast. They were horrified. They said it was worse than they'd had in the Swiss army.

Brian Turner is a chef with BBC2's `Ready Steady Cook'. The `Ready Steady Cook, Live and Sizzling' stage show will be on tour around the UK from 30 April-19 June. Tour Hotline (tel: 01285 654563).

INTERVIEW BY SARAH BARRELL

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