Carl Marsh: What is your go-to food?
James Martin: Fish and chips. Without a shadow of a doubt. That’s my nemesis, fish and chips.
Carl: What? From a chippy or home-cooked?
James: A chippy. A chip shop, yes. You can’t get fish and chips cooked at home like you can do in a fish and chip shop.
Carl: I know, but don’t you live down South (England) as I always was told they tasted nicer up North?
James: Well, you’ve got to have fish and chips up North. Grimsby is the home of fish and chips in my point of view. There are some great fish and chip shops, don’t get me wrong.
Carl: But you can’t beat up North, no.
James: When you’ve got one in your local area, that’s the one you’ll always go back to, you know? Having said that, I had a donor kebab the other day to remind me what it was like at College. That was pretty surreal.
Carl: Oh, wow. [laughs] I dread to think what you were like the next day. [laughs]
James: I don’t know whether that was a good thing or whether it wasn’t. It just reminded me of the College days. I thought, “I’m going to have one of them. Be a bit of fun.”
Carl: You’d obviously had a drink beforehand, mate. [laughs]
James: Precisely, yes.
Carl: [laughs] Talking about regional food, I know you’ve not long had a new cookbook released which covers the whole of the UK, so of the locations and things that you did, which ones stand out for you?
James: I’d flown with the RAF at Lossiemouth, I’d been crab-boating in Scotland, and we’d been to some amazing places. We got to Wales and this place called Llangollen, and I’d driven a steam train. I’ve always wanted to drive a train. So I got the chance to drive this steam train, and I cooked for the guys who worked on the steam line that particular day; I’d re-lived my boyhood ream. I’d always wanted to do falconry because I was really into birds of prey when I was a young nipper, and I got to do falconry with these amazing birds of prey. In the Welsh valleys around Snowdonia. That was a pinch yourself moment. That was pretty special.
You have fantastic produce in Wales. I had one of the most amazing meals out of the whole of the UK in Wales. I can’t remember exactly — is it Ynicia spelt with a Y?
James: That’s right. Gareth Ward, he’s the chef there. It’s phenomenal food there – (Ynyshir Restaurant in Machynlleth).
Carl: Yes, you can’t beat it. We’re spoiled for choice here.
James: It’s a fantastic place. You’ve also got Steven Terry at The Hardwick Restaurant (Abergavenny), Shaun Hill, one of the legends of the food industry working at and running an old inn, the Walnut Tree (also in Abergavenny). Sean Hill is a legend in my world, an absolute legend. It’s a very special place.
Carl: It is. We’re quite fortunate living here. My wife just says how special it is, where we live.
James: It’s the best place, mate. It’s an amazing part of the world is Wales. A beautiful part of the world. We filmed all the way through it from Snowdonia, Pembrokeshire, all over. It’s very, very special.