Tuesday 28 August 2012

Four Years in a Row for James Martin...

Chef James Martin at Bolton Food and Drink Festival 2012
I'm going to be honest. I had heard mixed reports about James Martin. Some had said he was a bit of a diva (sorry James). Others had raved about how nice he was. Always one for a balanced view, I decided to find out for myself. Being a bit of a housewives favourite, I expected the demo tent at Bolton Food ad Drink Festival to be teaming with clones of my own mother, but there were men there too! Real ones! I don't even think they were dragged there by the missus either.

Before the show started, I had the opportunity to get some photographs and ask James a few questions. We were told that he was running a little late due to traffic, so I sat waiting... wondering if he was going to terrify me...? I saw a shiny Audi R8 roll up beside the tent, and a figure in a baby blue polo shirt appear... smooth bugger.

Within a few seconds of him appearing in the tent, it was fairly obvious he wasn't a scheister at all. He was happy to pose for photographs, chatted to some of the producers on the market and was patient with those generally pulling him from pillar to post. This is James' fourth year at Bolton Food and Drink Festival, so there must be something pulling him back year on year.

Talking to James was very easy, and it's obvious that he has a genuine love for food and events like our food festival. I had always wondered why he wasn't pursuing the Michelin dream like some of his peers, but I think what became apparent in the next ten minutes was that he quite enjoys interacting with people and having a hectic life travelling the world.

So here are some of the things we chatted about...

Me: Don't worry, I don't have too many questions. I can see you're in demand!
James: No problem, it's absolutely fine!

I believe you're a trained pastry chef...?
Yeah, that's where I started my career but it's like other things; you do it for about two or three years and then move onto something else. It was certainly an integral part of my early training though.

I imagine you must like your desserts! What's your favourite?
I certainly do! Oh... I like things like Eton Mess... meringue.. stodge. I like all that kind of stuff! Nothing low fat and nothing fancy.

Earlier this week Mary Berry said she doesn't believe in low fat. She recommends having a smaller slice of something fantastic...
She is correct! Fat is flavour, particularly in pastry and baking.

I'm a keen restaurant goer, so I'm interested to know where are your favourite restaurants?
James: in the UK or globally?
Me: Either!
James: I went there on Sunday night last week. It's called Per Se. It's in New York. Its run by a chef called Thomas Keller who is probably one of the best chefs in the world.
Me: I have a confession. I'm going to The French Laundry in September.
James: You lucky lucky person! Take your credit card and spend the lot!
Me: Oh we fully intend to!
James: Choose the gastronomic menu which is 17 courses. It's the best food you'll ever eat in your life.
Me: So what about the UK?
James: I like Koffmanns; Pierre Koffmann's restaurant which is underneath the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge.

After being on the road, what do you enjoy making when you get home?
I've been all over the world in the last two weeks! Bacon sandwich. I have fresh tomatoes in the garden at home. I haven't been home for two weeks, so it's nice to come home to find the garden fully stocked. Yes, fresh bacon butty!

So this is your fourth year at the Bolton Food and Drink Festival. What are your impressions of Bolton and what do you like about the town?
Yeah, I can't believe I've been invited back! I like the market here, I like it here. It's nice to see it progress over the past four years. Now they're saying this is the biggest ever. Where do you go from here? You've got more chefs than you've ever had before. I just like it. The people make Bolton special as we know. It's weird because I don't really get invited to may northern things, so if I can do anything up here I like to. I'm from up here aren't I!? I like doing food festivals, and I'll do my best to be at an event like this.
Chef James Martin at Bolton Food and Drink Festival 2012
I stayed to watch James' demo where he had his crowd captivated. He shared that Saturday Kitchen has just been given another four years on the air which means lots more early starts for James! He has a cheeky style with his audience, who seemed to relish his sarcastic style. This was a little odd, as he was quite the gentleman one on one. This is 'stage James'. The chap who takes the mickey out of people chopping onions too slowly with goggles on is a very different chap from the one who loves to talk about food.
Chef James Martin at Bolton Food and Drink Festival 2012


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