Baldy TV pub chef Tom Kerridge chats accents, Wetherspoons and Piggate
Taste Of London: The Festive Edition is coming to London’s Tobacco Dock. Will you be handing out cocktail sausages and Quality Street to get everyone in a Christmas mood?
I love a cocktail sausage on a stick and Quality Street, especially the purple ones. Being part of the Taste Festival is a wonderful kick-off to Christmas. There’s no point in food snobbery over Christmas. It’s all about enjoying yourself.
Should we order a Christmas Day Domino’s to give our mums the 25th off?
No. You should definitely be cooking, but having fun. Do something easy that’s still a massive celebration for friends and family. Don’t order a pizza; make an effort with a big smile.
What’s the secret to the perfect roast potato? Gordon says shake them out of the window…
Don’t blanche your potatoes; boil them all the way through, then gently lift them onto a cake rack. Steam-drying helps them to go crusty when you roast them. If you want to shake them out the window like Gordon does, that’s fine. I’m not getting in the way of a three-Michelin stars chef. Just don’t drop them.
You have two Michelin stars. Why don’t you wear them on your name badge, like they used to in McDonald’s?
Because it’s something that the whole team has achieved and we’re very proud of. It’s not just a badge of honour for me.
Your pub, The Hand & Flowers, features crispy pig’s head on the menu at £12.50 for a whole pig’s head. Hasn’t supply and demand soared since Piggate?
Ha! Not that we’ve noticed. It’s not the whole head. We braise the whole head, then flake off all the meat. We season it, press it, cut it, cover it in breadcrumbs and deep fry it. It’s like a porky fish finger. It’s absolutely delicious.
Not drinking is the new rock’n’roll.
Heston took over Little Chef. What changes would you make if you were promoted to JD Wetherspoon?
To be honest, not a great deal. The Wetherspoon business model is fantastic. They’re open for breakfast, mid-morning coffee, value lunches, afternoon cake and evening meals. They do curry nights and steak nights. They’re open all day for everybody. It’s a business model that works.
You’ve said that the least-used appliance in your house is the oven. What about the hair dryer?
The hair dryer is definitely the least-used appliance in my side of the bedroom anyway. We’ve moved house and I’ve tried to take a bit more time off, so the oven comes in for more use now, although probably not as much as everybody else’s.
There’s quite a lot of baldy chefs, like you, Ainsley, Heston and Gregg, compared to very hairy ones like Worrall Thompson, the Hairy Bikers and, um, Nigella.
Is it the stress?
Baldness happens. Go in with the Bic razor and get rid of it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a chef or not. The sweep-over look is definitely not in fashion.
You’ve been teetotal for two years. Do you miss sherry trifle?
I’m happy to use it in cooking, but it means it doesn’t get poured into a glass and drunk. I thought the first three months were going to be hard, but it’s just a case of breaking the habit. Now I don’t miss it at all. Not drinking is the new rock’n’roll.
You got embroiled in a Twitter row with a food blogger, branding him a “bellend’ and a “dickhead”, among other things. Should this be a lesson: phones down when we eat?
Bloggers aren’t the issue. The problem is these things only get half reported. He called me a name, so I called him a name, but the newspapers only printed one side of the story, then you can’t defend yourself without it looking like a playground scrap. It was regrettable but a good learning experience. Life goes on.
People in Gloucester were saying “ennit” (as in “good up yer, ennit?”) way before the youth of today coined “innit”. Can we hold you personally responsible for the deterioration of the English language?
There’s nothing deteriorating about the language that comes out of Gloucester, or “Glawster” as we call it. We have Sainsbriz, Tescoze and Bz&Qz. The West Country is at the very forefront of modern language.
You’ve been called the best pub chef of all time.
I pay no attention to any of those things. It’s not me. It’s all about the vision and the team. People say lovely things that they don’t really mean.
And you won The Observer’s Best Food Personality Of 2015.
That’s lovely, because it was voted for by the public.
Does that mean at the annual TV chefs’ Christmas dinner you get to sit at the head of the table?
Yes, this year I’m the one who gets to wear the Rudolph red nose and antlers.
Kerridge will be at Taste Of London: The Festive Edition at Tobacco Dock, 19-22 November; tasteoflondon.co.uk
[Credit: Andrew Hayes-Watkins]
Birdies Crazy Golf
Deep down in the depths of Waterloo Vaults there is, believe it or not, a 9-hole crazy golf course. Yes, actual crazy golf, and you don’t need to hear to some grim outpost of Butlin’s to play it; the sixth hole even has a 5ft drop. Alongside this sits street food, golf inspired, booze and a cinema. Want more reaosn to book? They are now doing brunch sessions on the weekends, with a new menu including waffles and Bloody Mary cocktails.
The Vaults, Lambeth, London SE1 7AD
The first rule of Flight Club: you talk about Flight Club. Sat on the corner of the City and Shoreditch, this refined, almost members club-esque spot is taking the classic game of darts to a whole new level thanks to slick interactive boards and the sorts of drinks and nibbles you'll be waxing lyrical about for days.
Alphabeta Building, 2A Worship Street, London EC2A 2AH
The no-pretention New Year's Eve Party
New Year's Eve is always terrible right? Overpriced, overhyped and a big disappointment. Well, forget being cool and pretentious and just embrace a big fun party night instead and you might actually enjoy it. London's two most-loved niche club nights - the shameless, blameless pop fun of Guilty Pleasures and the power ballad kings Ultimate Power - are teaming up again for a giant seven hour blast at The Forum (ably assisted by live massaoke experts Friday I'm In Love) so let your hair down and your inhibitions go and see in 2016 in style.
The O2 Kentish Town Forum, 9-17 Highgate Rd, London NW5 1JY
A motorcycle club-cum-trendy café hangout? No, we haven’t been watching too much Sons of Anarchy, we’re simply referencing Bike Shed on Old Street, a classic motorcycle shop, bar and barbers. We're sewing the patches on as we speak.
384 Old St, London EC1V 9LT
House of Peroni
The immersive and multisensory residence that is House of Peroni brings a touch of ‘life lived inside’ with Vita all’Interno (not as pretentious as it sounds). There’s Michelin-starred food, Peroni Nastro Azzurro cocktails - yes there’s such a thing as beer cocktails and Negroni’s. Show some respect and get yourself down.
152 Brick Ln, London E1 6RU
Bao Burger - Pho & Bun
Imagine a world in which a burger bao hybrid existed. Well stop it, you fool, that's this world: a 28 day dry aged beef patty, special smoky mayonnaise sauce, herbs and salad, all crammed into a hirata bun now exists at Pho & Bun; and suddenly that Vietnamese burger dilemma doesn’t.
76 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 6ND
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland’s cooler cousin, this need-to-know event has crazy golf, a circus, ice skating, a night garden, food market, stand-up comedy and DJs playing late into the evening. You can’t miss it this season. Runs 26 November to 23 December.
Victoria Park, Grove Road, Bow, London E3 5TB
Mulled Wine FestivalIf you didn’t know already, it’s beginning to look a lot like… mulled wine season. Hence this festival, a three day affair of everything mulled from cider and cheese to candy. Yes the world has gone bonkers, please join them.35 Cranbourn St, London WC2H 7AD
Mint Vintage Clearance Sale
Mint has been in the vintage wares game for over 20 years, but rather than rotting clothes stinking up a bargain bin, these guys source pieces from the likes of Ralph Lauren and Levi’s. This two day sale will feature 8,000 decent items all priced either four, six or eight quid. Bargain.
Dalston Pier, 2a John Campbell Road, DALSTON, N16 8JZ
We think we’re turning Japanese, we think we’re turning Japanese – oh you know the rest.
And throughout November and December, so is much of Shoreditch, as Tokyo Nights arrives at Night Tales, ushering us down the back streets of Japan with the likes of Patty & Bun knock out food with a Tokyo twist. Along with eight private Ryokans (Japanese houses), there's a sushi supper club, sake bar and a hidden whisky bar round off proceedings.
288-299 Old St, London EC2A
Budvar tank and Burgers at MEATliquor’s newest outpost
Wander into this recently opened two-tiered Islington warehouse and kitchen – in which MEATliquor continues its attempts for citywide burger supremacy – and you won’t fail to notice the tanks of Budweiser Budvar sitting high in the rafters. They're huge.
So much more than Instagram-fodder, however, the beer packed inside these cannisters is brewed for 102 days before going straight from tank to glass - meaning, unless you've a jaunt to Eastern Europe planned, it’s the freshest those golden suds will ever taste.
133B Upper Street Islington London N1 1QP