“Err, it was all a bit of a mistake,” smiles Tom Kerridge when I pry into his childhood acting career. “To stop me hanging around with the naughty boys, my mum took me to this youth theatre. We grew up on an estate in Gloucester, so this gave us something to do – it was interesting and there were some very pretty girls there, so as a teenager it was fun,” he chuckles. “Within two weeks, an agent came to see someone else – and asked if they could represent me because I stood out a bit.”
“Three weeks later I was filming the Miss Marple Christmas special – playing a Borstal Boy. But I got type cast after that, so I went to catering college where I felt much more at home – and there were plenty of naughty boys there!”
Fast-forward twenty-two years, and Kerridge, who’s famed for his twinkly West Country demeanour, has just revisited our screens on BBC’s tv shows; Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food and Tom Kerridge Cooks Christmas: but he’s best-known for being the only chef in the country to hold two Michelin stars at his pub, The Hand and Flowers in Marlow.
With a classical cooking background that took in stints under Gary Rhodes and David Adlard in Norwich, Kerridge opened his own place with his wife Beth in 2005, with just three chefs in the kitchen – taken with the idea of serving excellent food in a relaxed setting.
“If I was going to be running my own place, I didn’t want to be cooking food that you think people should have if you just want to appear in a guidebook. Amuses and pre-desserts never suited me: I just wanted to cook food that I liked to eat – and I still do.