After his second demo, he made time in his schedule for us to have a chat. Nothing was off limits, and he gave me some great local recommendations!
What do you think of Bolton's Love Your Local Market Event?
I'm interested because I’m a massive advocate of local produce, regional produce, seasonal produce. I think it’s the way we should eat. I think we’re fortunate in the North West that we do have good markets; obviously we have Bolton, Ashton, Bury is nearby, Preston has a fantastic market too. I think we’re already doing what this event is all about. We have really good local markets, what we don’t have is a lot of people that are aware of them. I think people imagine that it’s the much older generation like your nan who shop here - and maybe that’s true! Maybe the best thing that could come out of this is the next generation of shoppers should be returning to markets rather than supermarkets!
What’s your favourite local ingredient available here on Bolton Market?
I think the best thing that we do in the North West that no-one does better is black pudding. No-one betters us on black pud. Also in the North West we are tremendous cheese makers; we’re a dairy region. Lancashire cheese, Cheshire cheese, there are some amazing artisan cheese makers who make interesting and unusual cheeses, and goat’s cheeses are available now as well. Then of course we have tremendous asparagus which when it comes it such an exciting thing! We also have some great fish off the coast of Fleetwood; sea bass, cod off the Irish coast, great beef, great pork - statistically the North West has the most diverse agriculture in Western Europe.
Other than your own, where are your favourite local restaurants?
Places that I continually go back to are Sangam curry house in Didsbury, Sher Akbar in Chorlton, Sutton Hall in Macclesfield is a good pub and Sam’s and Thomas’ Chop House in town.
Who are your favourite British chefs?
Wow. In terms of people I find inspiring, whenever I watch Rick Stein, he makes me want to go in the kitchen. That’s the thing with him, he makes everything look so incredibly simple! He demystifies food. If I think about what I do on telly, that’s one of my big aims to make people think ‘I can do that’. That’s why I love Rick. The I think of Nathan Outlaw who used to work for Rick and now has a fantastic place down in Cornwall. Tom Kitchen, Tom Kerridge, Glynn Purnell for left of centre molecular gastronomy. Too many! I get excited by lots of British chefs!
What’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
It was only three weeks ago! I ate in a restaurant called Azurmendi near Bilbao. It was the most incredible food I’ve ever eaten in my life. They’ve taken that modern, semi- molecular cuisine to a different level. Using loads of local and regional produce, just absolutely amazing. It’s worth spending the money to go to Bilbao just to eat there!
Sweet or savoury?
In that case... your favourite cheese in the world?
Ooh that’s always tricky! I have to go for Cheshire!
After all these years in the industry, where do you find inspiration?
I don’t think you ever stop being inspired. I was just saying today when I was wondering round that they guys on the fish stall have some tilapia. I’ve not had that on the menu for a while, so I think I can do something with that. I never ever stop being surprised. Like I said before, a few weeks ago I had the best meal of my life. Last summer I was in California and I ate in a great restaurant called the Slanted Door. A bergamot and orange candy floss on the desert menu. Genius! Absolute genius! So you never know where you’re going to get inspiration from.
If you could pass one recipe to your children, what would it be?
Where is your favourite foodie holiday destination?
California. Without a shadow of a doubt. They have tremendous restaurants and produce, a great variety of cultures. Britain does the most diverse food that you can get anywhere in the world, but as a destination San Francisco Farmer’s Market on a Saturday, (I excitedly tell Simon we are going there in September...) Oh you have to eat at the Slanted Door! You need to book now! It’s brilliant!
What are you having for your tea tonight?
It’s Saturday so I’ll be in London with my nine year old son so I’ll be eating pulled pork in Bodean’s in Soho!
Thanks to Jackie and Philippa at Bolton Market for being such enthusiastic wonderful ladies and to Simon for taking time out of his schedule to have a natter to me.