Star Q&A: Tom Kerridge

Liz Nicholls


Michelin-starred chef & dad Tom Kerridge, 49, chats to Liz about life, loves and his Full Time Meals campaign with Marcus Rashford.

Q. Hi Tom! As this month is our education supplement, I wonder, did you enjoy school? “I loved school but it wasn’t necessarily the right thing for me. I had fun hanging out with mates but the academic system of remembering things and then repeating them wasn’t right for me. I felt much more at home at culinary college, vocational learning. I’m a using my hands, getting things done kind of person. But our son Ace loves school; he’s six so he’s making friends and loving it every day.”

Q. Your charity campaign with Marcus Rashford is very admirable; what’s your mission? “The big thing I’ve been involved in with Marcus is trying to end childhood poverty, trying to make sure kids from disadvantaged backgrounds are given those equal opportunities irrespective of their financial background. It shouldn’t matter where you’re born or what your background – I’ve love people from families who are struggling not to know: don’t be duped into believing you’re part of a system – believe you can achieve anything for yourself. The Full Time Meals campaign that we’ve put together is about using pocket-friendly ingredients and it’s for beginners or people who can’t or haven’t spent lots of time cooking before. It’s about confidence, which means less time cooking.”

Q. What’s the most surprising thing that fatherhood has taught you? “How hard it is! Parental guilt is a massive thing. I never thought I’d feel caught between two worlds, professionally and personally, paying your bills then the guilt of not being at home. Finding that balance is very difficult. Everybody feels that – but as long as the kid’s all right you’re doing all right!”

Q. Did lockdown highlight your love for your community? “We’re very lucky to live in Marlow. It’s quite an affluent town but it’s also very loving and giving, a very supportive environment. But it does also have its share of people who are needy and vulnerable in society. We made 1,000 meals a week for people from all different backgrounds who you wouldn’t normally see. It was incredibly worthwhile.”

Q. How are your dogs getting on? “Really well thanks. We’ve now got a French bulldog rescue called Zee and a puppy Labrador called Diddler. Marlow woods and common are great places for dogs – it’s like dog heaven with rope swings on trees.”

Q. What’s the first meal you cooked that blew your mind? “Spaghetti bolognese is one of those first meals everybody else cooks. I still adore it, especially if it’s been made the day before to allow the flavours to mature. My wife & I constantly argue over whether to put carrots in; I’m in the ‘carrots in’ camp.”

Q. What would you choose as your last meal? “It’s gotta be something brilliantly British like fish and chips or maybe roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.”

Q. What kitchen gadget could you not live without? “It’s always the simplest things that are the best, like a great knife and a good wooden chopping board. Or one of those speed peelers that works really well.”

Q. You look so fit & well – do you have any guilty pleasures? “You’re very kind but I have a daily battle like everybody else. My world is full of food which makes it very very difficult, no matter where I am in different spaces. I feel guilty about eating all of it! I basically try to go to the gym four or five times a week if not more to offset my eating. I give myself specific long-term goals. It used to be swimming a mile or doing heavy deadlifts – I like something to work towards.”

* For more about Tom, his restaurants and the Full Time Meals campaign at

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Star Q&A: Ainsley Harriott

Liz Nicholls


We chat to chef, TV presenter & dad Ainsley Harriott MBE, 65, about love, laughs & living well.

Q. Hello Ainsley! You’ve been cheering the nation up for decades. Do you work hard to take good care of your mental health or are you blessed with being a naturally positive person? “I think people who know me would say that I’m lucky enough to be naturally positive and I genuinely like to have a good laugh whenever possible. I shrug off disappointments fairly easily – it comes from years of following Arsenal…”

Q. What’s the first meal that blew your mind? “I remember my dad regularly taking us all to a Chinese restaurant in Soho when I was a kid. It was a much rarer experience in those days and I loved those meals.”

Q. You’ve had so much success as a writer. Whose books do you love? “Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings has always been an important book to me. As for cookbooks, I’ve always enjoyed anything by Ken Hom.”

Q. We’ve been loving watching your travels on your shows. If you had to pick anywhere in the world, where is your ‘happy place’? “Well, I just returned from a fabulous break at the Coral Reef in Barbados. It’s where I go to really relax, so I guess you could definitely call it my happy place.”

Q. Is there anything you don’t eat? Either because it gives you the ick or you steer clear of? “I’ve no idea why, but the only thing that disagrees with me is cucumber.”

Q. What kitchen gadget could you not do without? “I wouldn’t like to be without my late mum’s dutchie pot.”

Q. What’s your favourite piece of music? And what’s your first memory of music? “Picking one piece of music is impossible, of course, because it completely depends on your mood. I love a bit of Nina Simone – but then again, I often have Classic FM playing throughout the day. My earliest memory of music would be sitting under the piano while my dad, who toured the world as a professional musician, was playing.”

Q. What piece of advice to give to any parent trying to make ends meet in terms of feeding the family? “Plan and stick to a menu for the week. It helps to avoid waste and ought to reduce overbuying.”

Q. Finally, if you could make one wish for the world, what would it be? “The same as everyone else: an end to all the constant conflict and all the human misery that goes along with it.”

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