Helenka Bednar, contributor, MSN Food & Drink
15/09/2011 11:14 | By Helenka Bednar, contributor, MSN Food

James Martin interview

The presenter of Saturday Kitchen chats about Rick Stein, Michel Roux Senior and taking egos off the menu

James Martin (© BBC \ Cactus TV)

Which British food do you particularly love?
There's nothing better than steak, chips and a Béarnaise sauce. Fish and chips is just magic. I like simple, fresh British ingredients. I've always been a fan of local producers. I cooked some amazing duck, which I found when I was in Northern Ireland last week.

You want to work as a chef more, when you're finding things like that. Finding ingredients that you've never even seen, and bringing them to the attention of other chefs as well - that's the great thing. The enjoyment I get out of it is supporting the small, local producers.

You've recently launched your own recipe app. Do you think apps are easier to follow in the kitchen than recipe books and cookery shows?
If you follow a recipe on a cooking programme, you'll find that 50% of your concentration is on the food, the other 50% is on watching what the hell's going on! In terms of people following a recipe at home, you want to be following it simply. With the app, you've got the benefit of both a book to follow and a video. It's easier than following a cookbook because you're seeing someone actually demonstrate things.

Your latest cookbook takes a master class approach to cooking. What was the thinking behind it?
I think with food in general, people often try to step up a ladder by jumping halfway up. To learn to cook, you've got to learn the basics. The book shows people the hints and tricks I've learnt along the way, and from other chefs. It's about how to achieve simple, great food.

James Martin (© BBC \ Cactus TV)

Which chefs do you admire?
Rick Stein - I admire his style of cooking. To be honest I'd love to go to the places he's been! I get about as far north as Watford! I think particularly with Rick when you're watching him, you can't help but admire what he does. He's very knowledgeable.

You film Saturday Kitchen live, with lots of timed cooking going on. Have there been any chefs with big personalities on the show that you've had to rein in?
Not really. Cooking food recorded and doing it in your kitchen is one thing. Doing it live, with 4.5 million people watching, you kind of concentrate a little bit more! What you say, is what goes out. The egos get left behind in the kitchen. We don't really have that on the show, and there's no room for it either.

Were you nervous when you presented your first episode of Saturday Kitchen live to the nation?
I was crapping myself to be honest, as most people would be! At the end of the day, I have a great team around me. I'm the focal point in terms of the camera pointing at me, but if you turn the camera the other way, there's a whole team that are a part of that show making it what it is.

Do you still get nervous occasionally when a particular chef comes on the show?
Yes, people like Michel Roux Senior. I'm trying not to call him Chef and turn into this blithering commis chef! The biggest compliment you can ever get from somebody like that is "You're doing great". Last time he was on, he actually turned around and said "Can I take that idea and put it on the restaurant menu at The Waterside?" What better compliment can you possibly get from any chef?

James Martin's recipe app Simplicity is available to download from iTunes, priced at £0.59. His latest book, Masterclass: Making your home cooking easier, is available now. Published by Harper Collins, priced at £20.

03/01/2013 09:20
Hello James
I love your show, it's really useful. I was wondering if I could come over and show a little of my Sri Lankan cookery lessons. The way I am trying to show it is little different because I am trying to show how to cook and at thew same time how to save gas. Now this gas is an expensive commodity and some people cannot afford the price but if I can show how to save some gas, I am sure many would love it. This would give your show more popular. Please email me perera6@hotmail.co.uk 
Hector Perera
27/04/2014 12:07
Love show.  From first shy nervous show James has now made it his own ... Injecting his humour BUT....

NO WAY. Can I eat butter...sorry James!

Carry on as you are...........great.

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