Chef and presenter John Torode, 55, on passé pate, keeping his cool in the kitchen and Aussie Christmas customs worth adopting.
John And Lisa’s Weekend Kitchen is back for a fifth series. Not bad going, eh?
We are very proud of this show. People want to know how to make good food at home and where you can buy the ingredients.
We’re not trying to emulate restaurant food. That’s why you go to a restaurant – you go to eat something you don’t cook at home.
There’s no shortage of new recipes. How do you keep them coming?
We work with a production team who have ideas and, when you think about it, there are only 40 recipes.
One of the things that Lisa [Faulkner, John’s co-host and wife] has taught me is that a good shortcut is a fantastic thing – the odd jar here, the odd packet there is good when you’re cooking for a family.
What do you both bring to the show?
Lisa’s view on cooking is about feeding people while I’m more interested in the technical aspects of cooking, the secrets of the trade that people might not know how to do, whether that be how to get the perfect steak or mashed potatoes. As a couple, we bounce ideas off each other.
If I made a cooking show with my partner we’d end up screaming at each other. How do you both stay so calm?
We don’t really boss each other around or tell the other what to do. We have this instinct about what needs to be done and maybe that’s an ability to listen and read body language a little bit. But it’s not about force, it’s not about trying to show off.
You’ve known the other special person in your life, Gregg Wallace, for more than 25 years. You know, you get less for murder…
[Laughs] You know what? Certain partnerships work and certain partnerships are meant to be, and we have this great respect for each other but we are very, very different. I think that’s also true of Lisa and I.
We are married but we’re our own people. We have our own hobbies. We have our own things that we do. We never try to force the other to do things they wouldn’t want to do.
The success of MasterChef really is quite amazing. Can you believe it’s still so popular 15 years since its return?
One of the things you have to remember about MasterChef – which I think is quite incredible – is that the show is simply me and Gregg narrating what’s happening in the world of food.
The contestants are the ones bringing that new world of food to the viewers and without those people we would have nothing. We’re seeing it again this year – we’re filming now – that people in lockdown have been working very hard and it’s quite incredible how food has moved on.
I remember in the final of series one Caroline Brewster, who came runner-up to Thomasina Miers, her starter course was pâté and soda bread. Seventeen years on we would go, well, that’s nice but it’s not a finalist’s dish.
You’re doing a few shows in the new year. Is that a chance to slim us down after all the festive indulgences?
I’ve never been someone who talks about slimming. I find the word ‘diet’ a little unusual. We all have a diet – it’s how we eat. I would never preach to someone about what they should eat.
We just give people ideas and whether it be a bowl of soup or a stuffing pie, it’s completely up to them what they choose. There’s a lot of comfort food at this time of year but why shouldn’t there be?
There’s a great quote from Mary Berry when someone asked her how she stays so trim despite eating cake every day, and she said, ‘Well, it depends how much of it you eat every day.’ That’s the right attitude.
Would you have liked an opportunity like MasterChef when you were starting out?
I’m fortunate because I’ve loved food and cooked all my life, and I’m very happy with what I’ve done. MasterChef is the most wonderful conduit for people who want to change their lives.
If you’re in the industry there’s the professional MasterChef that Gregg does and that’s wonderful. But for me, watching the amateurs who want to change their lives is a magical thing.
You’ve been in Britain for decades. Do you sometimes yearn for the Australian way of life you left behind?
I’ve been around here for a really long time. I’ve been in the UK for more than half of my life. I have a wonderful wife and wonderful children. I’m very happy here. Although I would like to go back to Australia and be barefoot on the sand on Christmas Day.
Are there any Aussie customs we should adopt over here around Christmas time?
Sunshine. A bit of sunshine would be good, wouldn’t it? And if it’s not sunshine, then can it please be snow?
John & Lisa’s Weekend Kitchen is on ITV at 11.40am every Saturday.
Credit: Original article published here.