Celebrity Chef James Martin at Shrewsbury Flower Show

PUBLISHED: 01:16 20 July 2012 | UPDATED: 21:38 20 February 2013

Celebrity Chef James Martin at Shrewsbury Flower Show

Celebrity Chef James Martin at Shrewsbury Flower Show

Celebrity chef James Martin is heading our way this month to star at Shrewsbury Flower Show. Sarah Hart caught up with him

James Martin mixes with some of the best chefs in the world,
but ask him what his last meal would be and he says: My grandmothers bacon butties and my mums roast dinner. I just cant make roast potatoes like my mum.

The star of BBC1s Saturday Kitchen Live is making a return to Shrewsbury Flower Show after a three-year absence and says hes looking forward to it. His culinary demonstrations were a huge hit at the 2008 and 2009 shows. It was then he discovered Shropshires own cold-pressed extra-virgin Great Ness rapeseed oils and has been a fan ever since; great for mustard dressings, mayonnaise and tartarsauce.

Hes passionate about promoting home-grown produce and British cooking. The son of a Yorkshire pig and cattle farmer who also ran the catering at Castle Howard, York, he could have followed either career path.

Farming was bloody hard work, so I picked the lesser of the two and went into cooking, but I suppose its longer hours! he says.

Ive always had a passion for cooking. Ilearned that passion from my mother and my grandmother.

Martin started cooking in the kitchen when he was eight. He was working in a professional kitchen at the age of 14 and, at 18, his exceptional talent was spotted by the celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson and he headed to London towork in some of the best restaurants in the world.

Among his circle of friends is the two Michelin star former Shropshire-based chef Claude Bosi, now a Saturday Kitchen regular, who relocated his Hibiscus restaurant from Ludlow to Mayfair in 2007.

Martin first appeared on our TV screens in 1996 in Ready Steady Cook. He has since made some 40 different programmes and is credited with single-handedly turning round the fortunes of Saturday morning television. Saturday Kitchen attracts over three million viewers.

Im very fortunate and very lucky, hesays. Hes very pragmatic about fame.

It was Cliff Richard who told me 10 years ago that if you want privacy all you do is put a big gate on your house. My home is my oasis, but Im not Elton John. Ican get in my car and go shopping and Im fine. Im just a cook at the end of the day, trying to do my job the best I can.

He won Strictly Come Dancing in
2005; nothing to do with food, but it got me noticed by people at the BBC and they offered me Saturday Kitchen. It was my mother who said youve got to give it a go, because if you dont, somebody elsewill!

He says he ignores the hype about his status as a heart-throb and housewifes favourite tags helped by his single man-about-town persona.

People either like you or they dont like you. The only thing you dont do is google yourself because youll be depressed!

Hes just turned 40, but says he doesnt feel any older than 22. I feel in a good place, more knowledgeable, more settled. Ive got my house finally.

He recently saw the completion of his dream home in Hampshire with state-of-the art garages for his ever-growing collection of classic sports, rally and racing cars. He reportedly once said the most important things in his life, in order, were food, cars, his dog, then women. Theres someone special in his life right now, he admits, but thats all hes saying.

A renowned speed freak, Martins 40th birthday was spent hurtling round the Goodwood Festival of Speed, mixing with the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

If he had his time again would he be a Michelin-starred chef or a racing driver?

Its a tough choice. Probably a chef, because the career is a lot longer, he says.

I would love to be a racing driver, but Im a better chef than I am a driver and, anyway, my backside is too big to fit into the drivers seat. I like chocolate eclairs too much!

James Martins new cookery book Slow Cooking is due out in the Autumn.

Shrewsbury Flower Show celebrates the countys floral and culinary excellence in a magical two day show.

The show, celebrating 125years, features the best ingarden design and planting, amazing floralmarquees, demonstrations, tipsfrom horticultural experts including TV gardener Chris Beardshaw and cookery master classes by James Martin in the Marches FoodHall.

The Severn Marquee will house one of the largest wine and honey selections in the country.

Run by Shropshire Horticultural Society, theshow attracts around 50,000 visitors and exhibitors over two days.

This years event is on August 10th and 11th.

For more information and tickets visit www.shrewsburyflowershow.org

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