Grilled: Tom Kerridge
08 August 2017
"The thing I especially love is that it completely takes over the town and there’s this real carnival atmosphere."
Despite being one of the UK’s most in-demand chefs, Tom Kerridge is still finding time to join in the party at the Abergavenny Food Festival (and tell us all about it!)
Hi, Tom! We were pretty excited when we found out that you were in the line-up at the Abergavenny Food Festival . What enticed you to take part?
I didn’t need any persuading! I love the Abergavenny Food Festival; I’ve been a couple of times already and it’s great, so I’m very excited to be coming back.
We guess you’re hoping to be able to get out and enjoy all the festivities after you’ve done your bit, then?
I really hope so! The thing I especially love is that it completely takes over the town and there’s this real carnival atmosphere. There’s just so much going on.
For anyone who’s lucky enough to bag a ticket to see you, what can they expect?
I’m going to be in conversation with Tim Hayward [ the food writer and broadcaster ] and I’ve known him for a while, so it should be fun. I think the weight loss will be a big part of it – I’ve lost 11 stone over the past three years – and so will my book, Tom Kerridge’s Dopamine Diet , but we’ll also be talking about food in general and how it affects life, and what’s going on in Britain at the moment and everything we should be proud of.
As we understand it, a large part of the diet is built around cutting out the carbs. Don’t you miss them?
Not any more – I’ve got into the habit of it now. Of course, sometimes I am tempted by a fantastic triple cooked chip or when I get that wonderful smell of freshly baked bread. But in everyday life, things like ordinary sliced bread or some plain pasta – no, I don’t miss it.
We’re impressed by your self-control. (We love a carb here at Crumbs; hey, even our name is bread-based!) If we were to come to one of your pubs, you wouldn’t deny us that, would you?
Of course not! The reason why I ended up going on a low-carb diet was that I wouldn’t have to change the way I cook at work. I still do everything exactly the same, I just cut the carb part out when I eat. And if you’re following the Dopamine Diet you can still come to The Hand and Flowers in Marlow to eat – just don’t have the chips!
Okay, so we got the message – no carbs for you. But what do you love eating?
I am huge fan of slow-cooked meats – things that take a lot of time. It might be a wonderful piece of beef, or a filling for a pie at The Hand and Flowers, or a chilli at The Coach , or a fantastic slow-cooked shoulder of lamb at home – it’s all brilliant.
I think people are embracing this way of cooking more and more, because they understand that – as long you plan your week – you can just put it in and get on with things and don’t have to worry about it.
There’s a whole load of stress associated with cooking meat – keeping it pink, resting it and so on – but you don’t get all that with slow cooking. And the results are delicious!
Stop now, please. (You’re making us very hungry!) But say you had just inspired us to go and do a bit of slow cooking – any particular recommendations in terms of producers?
I’m very fortunate in that I’ve been working with my suppliers for years now, and we’ve built relationships. I get my meat from Walter Rose & Son in Wiltshire. I’ve used them for a long time; they have a great set-up, with this beautiful frontage at their shop in Devizes, and a fantastic commercial site.
Thanks for the tip. It definitely seems like people are caring more and more about where their produce is coming from these days. Do you think that’s because there are people like you on the telly so often talking about all the ace food out there?
TV is great, because you can reach people in their homes, but actually I think that it’s more to do with events like Abergavenny Food Festival, and the fact there are so many more opportunities now for people to get out and talk to the producers and butchers and have little tasters of cheese, and see the beautiful cuts of meat and get immersed in the whole experience. TV is 2D, but the really beautiful thing about food is the three-dimensional physicality of it.
If you miss out on tickets to see Tom, d on’t worry, because there are tons more ace events taking place over the Abergavenny weekend, including a spice masterclass with Romy Gill; making hangover cocktails with Freddy Bird; exclusive pop-ups with Olia Hercules and Edinburgh Food Studio; and a food styling and photography masterclass with Genevieve Taylor and ace photographer (and friend of Crumbs) Kirstie Young. As well as all the ticketed events, there’s also the Producer’s Market, a million-and-one book signings, a Night Market on Saturday, and loads to get the kids involved, including a new edible education space.
Just reading this? You've missed the 2017 festival I'm afraid! Get to the next on though, details when live will be here: abergavennyfoodfestival.com