James Martin

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After you‘d voted him your favourite TV chef, we sent Victoria Young along to find out what turns James Martin on – and off

About women…
The best date I’ve ever had was in a restaurant in London when I got given a Picasso. I’m not saying who she is as we’re not together any more; the relationship ended, like many do.

The most disastrous date I’ve ever had was when I was at college. I promised a girl called Annie Cooper that I’d cook dinner for her and her parents. I ducked into the nearest KFC and bought a family bucket of chicken, took the skin off, whipped up a red wine sauce and called it coq au vin.

My idea of hell is a woman in a Volvo; they’re the worst cars ever built and I’ve actually seen women driving them down the motorway with three pairs of shoes under the pedals, putting on their lipstick at the same time as they’re changing their shoes. I think it’s called multi-tasking.

My biggest luxury…
Is cars, without a doubt. I have 11 and I drive them all. Only a woman could ask why I have so many. My reply is, “Why do you need so many pairs of shoes?” They usually say something like, “Every one makes me feel like a million dollars,” and the same goes for me and cars – but I have only four pairs of shoes.

I can’t live without…
A nice watch. I have 12 – I collect them as well. I think it’s partly because I’m always punctual; I absolutely hate being late. My favourite is a 1972 Rolex Daytona Paul Newman, but at the moment I’m wearing another Rolex model. When am I going to have enough?

When the bank phones me to say I’ve got to stop spending money. My philosophy is that I work my butt off, so why shouldn’t I enjoy spending it? If you can’t appreciate the fruits of all your hard work, then why bother? Lots of chefs tend to die young because of things like heart problems, probably because of the stress.

The fame game...
I’m not into being famous. It’s always been about the cooking for me – I’m not a TV presenter and I’ve never professed to be; it just so happens I cook on a show that’s on Saturday morning TV. And if it all goes wrong, I can roll up my sleeves and get back in the kitchen.

I respect a lot of chefs – Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and Delia Smith. But my biggest influence is probably Michelin star-winning Indian chef Atul Kochhar, who was on Saturday Kitchen recently.

Away from the spotlight...
Dancing is no longer a passion. I loved doing Strictly Come Dancing, it was great fun, but I gave up dancing as soon as the show stopped. Having said that, I did do a bit of breakdancing one night in the pub, for a laugh, and I did my knee in and realised that I’m too old for dancing.

The meal I’d cook to seduce someone is a risotto, probably with smoked salmon and peas from my garden. It’s simple and bursting with fresh flavours.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever had is “Keep your friends close to you and your enemies even closer”.

Get all the latest from your favourite chef on the jamesmartinchef.co.uk

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