The Wiltshire-born gastronome reveals what influences his cooking style, how he spends his time out of the kitchen, and the meal that made him truly fall in love with food.

 

Managing two Michelin star pubs, filming for BBC Two’s Top of the Shop, hosting the Pub in the Park tour and appearing at the BBC Good Food Show in just a matter of months seems like an impossibility to many – but for renowned and highly acclaimed chef, Tom Kerridge, this is reality.


How is your week going so far?


The same as every other week, busy, full on and I don’t even know what day it is!

You’re coming to Birmingham for the BBC Good Food Show held at the NEC this summer. Are you looking forward to the event?

Hugely! The NEC is one of my favourite shows of the year, so many people, so many exhibitors, and such a great vibe!

It’s a hugely popular day out. Why do you think the BBC Good Food Show works so well in the West Midlands?

The location is fantastic so people can travel from all over the country and also the facilities are first rate – cafes, bars and access for parking, all make a big different to a great day out.

When you’re not presenting your Big Kitchen session, are you going to be heading anywhere in particular at the show?

Yes, I love to see as many things as possible, whether it is new pots and pans or knives, or interesting food suppliers. There are so many great things to see out there and to network with all these guys that give their heart and soul into everything they do, is a great way to spend a day.

 

Your new show, Top of the Shop has also just started its first series on BBC Two – and it’s fab! How did you first become involved with the show?

The BBC asked if I would like to present a show that represented small scale artisan producers, the kind of guys that exhibit at the BBC Good Food Show. It was a no brainer, they showcase their passion and are great to be around.

What was your favourite part about working with amateur artisans and helping to promote their produce in Yorkshire? 

Actually, their passion and understanding for products is great, so even though they were not necessarily professional, they all had a professional mind-set. It was great to work with, and see people on the start of their journey, and hopefully the show has helped them kick onto the future.

Why do you feel it is important to support local businesses?

I’m a local business! Aren’t we all local businesses? You set up somewhere hoping to do well, you need the support of a community around you to be able to grow to a larger market, and the most important thing is to not forget the people who helped you in the first place as your key customer base. It brings revenue, jobs and enthusiasm to the local communities which is great.

Have any particular entrepreneurs stood out for you?


Anybody who has a go themselves deserves a break; they are all taking a risk on themselves which shows a huge amount of bravery and I have a massive amount of respect for them.

How have you found working alongside your fellow judges Nisha and Alison?

They are amazing! Nisha is an amazing businesswoman and restaurateur and Alison’s knowledge is second to none, not just about the industry but about life, she is an incredibly wise woman.

Your pub, the fabulous two Michelin-starred ‘The Hand and Flowers’, is described lovingly as “a proper pub with proper food”. Was it always your intention to create down-to-earth, unpretentious dishes?

Yes, my idea was to ensure that great food was accessible to everybody where everyone felt welcome and understands the menu, with food items on it that they all recognise. For me, it has always been able accessibility of dishes, food and making everyone feel comfortable.

You also have a sister pub, the one Michelin starred ‘The Coach’. Your close-knit teams at both pubs hold exceptional standards aiming to offer customers cosy, friendly service and brilliant culinary experiences  – do you work closely with your chefs to create menus collaboratively?

Everybody who runs those businesses have been involved for such a long time that they have a complete understanding of where we should be going, the food items that we should be serving, etc. But it is with their own influence and style that allows them to speak creatively whilst under a collective brand ethos.

 
Where do you find inspiration for your recipes?

All around. As chefs we are hugely influenced by season, but also by history, provenance and new product ideas that come from suppliers, fish mongers, butchers etc.
 

Can you remember the first meal that made you fall in love with food?


There is a huge amount of influence of all the food that I cook. I have always been a huge lover of food but I think you have many childhood memories. A corned beef sandwich with crusty bread whilst watching the Pink Panther on a Saturday evening was a bit of a routine. Food for me is also something that is associated with a great time.

You’ve also been very open about your weight loss journey and of course helped 13 people transform their lives in your BBC series Loose Weight For Good. Has this personal experience affected your cooking style?

On a personal basis, yes I’m very much more conscious about the food that I eat. On a professional basis, no. I know that people are coming to eat at The Hand and Flowers because it is a nice place to eat, I’m not going to dictate what they should and shouldn’t eat. Eating out is always seen as something that is a great experience.

Where does your passion for cooking originally stem from?


I actually feel in love with the industry first before cooking, I loved the lifestyle, the late nights, the slightly left field way of looking at life. The harder you work, the better the kitchens, the better life was, suited me down to the ground.


You’ve often spoken about the importance of using high quality, fresh produce. How do you ensure your dishes are packed full of flavour every time?

An understanding of process and ingredient is really important. 

You also offer a new venture for your customers - private dinners hosted by Michelin starred chefs. How did this initiative first come about?

We have guest nights in our private dining room with guest chefs coming from all over and visiting us.

When you’re not in the kitchen or hosting for the BBC, what can you be found doing?

I spend any spare time that I have with my two-and-a-half year old son watching racing cars or football.


Finally, what’s your absolute, all-time favourite meal? The meal you would ask for if it was the last thing you could ever eat?


Fish and chips and a can of lilt!

 

Watch Tom live in action at the BBC Good Food Show this June. Check out the full line up at the Big Kitchen online at bbcgoodfoodshow.com.

 

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