I live in Surrey, UK, with my wonderful partner Simon, my mischievous cat Pippin and my unashamed love of both crime fiction and musical theatre. And don’t even get me started on my Victoria Wood collection or my Golden Girls box sets!
In my professional life I am a Maths teacher, and now a Food teacher, having taught for almost 30 years. Teaching remains both exciting and rewarding for me and as a teacher I love to learn, especially with my cooking.
Cooking has always been a significant part of my life, inspired by my gran and my mum, so to have been chosen as one of the 10 contestants on BBC1’s Britain’s Best Home Cook was an honour. You can read all about my fun exploits on the programme here.
I love all cooking; for me it is the best way to lose myself in a very happy world. In the world of cooking, though, baking epitomes total comfort for me; it’s possibly also a form of therapy for me -and it is certainly my “go to” when I want to relax.
My world of food: often retro-inspired, but with an updated take
While I love to cook anything, I certainly have a soft spot for “retro” food, but I am also inspired by current trends IF the end result is a great plate of food that is not overly fussy.
Basically, if it tastes great, regardless of the era from whence it came, then I want to know how to make it!
Give me a vol-au-vent bursting at the seams with a full-flavoured filling or a generous slice of a good Black Forest Gateau and I am a very happy boy.
While any of these might be considered somewhat naff, they really doesn’t deserve that reputation.
Reviving dishes that have either fallen out of fashion or are all but forgotten, is of great interest to me, and I always get joy when I research such dishes and make them at home.
That said, a full-on roast dinner with all of the trimmings (great veg dishes, sauces and condiments) ticks every box for me any day of the week!
Putting my twist on favourites
I love to put my own stamp on food, whether incorporating a subtle twist or going all out with a full re-working. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t – but that is all part of the fun of cooking.
My kedgeree-inspired tarts, which were selected by BBC Good Food Magazine as their Readers’ Recipe in their 25th Anniversary issue, are are my affectionate homage to that great dish. My recipe for these tarts can be found here.
Humble ingredients, great dishes
I love how just a few humble ingredients can often be turned into something quite majestic. Using ingredients that are lying around the kitchen cupboards and the fridge, and without needing to spend hours in the kitchen, can result in great dishes. Nothing needs to get wasted in the kitchen, and this approach is one of the driving forces in my cooking.
The dishes in the photos below were all made quickly using just ingredients I had to hand.
Anyone for nibbles?
Buffet-type food has always excited me: there is something wonderful about grazing on a plateful of goodies and then going back for more! I love to prepare and eat food you can nibble on: canapés, platters and Afternoon Tea treats.
I would actually forego a full meal for a selection of good nibbles – as long as they keep coming!
Afternoon Tea is actually one of my foodie hobbies, and I try to fit in at least a couple each month, as well as preparing it for others. It is always a great opportunity for me to indulge in my creative side. My recipe ideas on Afternoon Tea can be found here.
Cooking with the seasons
Making use of seasonal produce is an important part of my approach in all of my cooking and I particularly love the challenge of finding new dishes with the produce.
We are fortunate to have an allotment which is a great haven. In any month of the year there is produce that can be made great use of in the kitchen – and that never fails to both excite and inspire me.
I have many ambitions and wishes, which I appreciate are more like wild dreams. That said, one of my greatest ambitions – to cook on television – came true this year when I was chosen to participate in Series 1 on Britain’s Best Home Cook.
Being on Britain’s Best Home Cook was hands-down the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me.
I enjoyed every moment of my time on the show, not least getting the opportunity to cook for Mary Berry, Chris Bavin and Dan Doherty. And to have Claudia Winkleman, one of my idols, bouncing around the kitchens and being a terrific support, was a real thrill.
It is probably greedy to have other ambitions after this, but I will allow myself a moment of greed! My other ambitions include:
- To publish a cookery book: I create recipes all the time, of which only a small proportion are on this blog, and I have so many book ideas drafted.
- To run more cooking demonstrations.
- To write about food professionally.
- To have my own tea shop, serving quality Afternoon Teas: great sandwiches, scones, pastries, cakes, savoury items……mind you, pop-up Afternoon Tea events is right up my street!
- I have a weakness for Reality TV and to dance on Strictly or go in the jungle are also mad dreams of so many years. Essentially a way to lose weight!!! If only they let one non-celeb person each series participate…….
All insanely daft dreams, but it is fun to dream!
Please feel free to get in touch, as I love to chat with others. I can be emailed here or contacted on social media by clicking the relevant buttons on the top right of this page.