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, for the past few years, a Food & Nutrition teacher as well. I love flitting between the two subjects – although they are not always mutually exclusive! I am thrilled to be heading up the Food and Nutrition department at my school shortly.
Teaching remains both exciting and rewarding for me and as a teacher I love to learn, especially with my cooking. I also give cooking lessons and recipe demonstrations around the Surrey and London areas.
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 the first series of BBC1’s Best Home Cook (2018) was an honour. You can read all about my 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.
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.
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 joys, and I try to fit in at least a couple a month, as well as preparing it for others, which is 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 a few years ago when I was chosen to participate in Series 1 of Best Home Cook (then called Britain’s Best Home Cook).
Being on Best Home Cook was hands-down the most exciting thing that has 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. I have so many great memories, but to have had Mary Berry herself standing over me during an elimination challenge while I was making her strawberry meringue roulade (one I’d first made decades ago from one of her books)…especially at the critical moments….what an honour!
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 do more professional food writing, such as offering tips and ideas for cooking great food seasonally and simply.
- To publish a cookery book: I create recipes all the time, of which only a small proportion are on this website, and I have several book ideas drafted.
- I have a weakness for some reality TV and would love to dance on Strictly, go into “the jungle” (if they ever let a non-celeb on) or to critique telly on Gogglebox…….dreams of so many years.
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.