I live in Surrey, UK, with my wonderful partner Simon, my mischievous cat Pippin and my unashamed love of both crime fiction and musical theatre.
Don’t even get me started on my Victoria Wood collection or my Golden Girls box sets!
In my professional life I am a teacher (Maths and Head of Food & Nutrition). Although they are not always mutually exclusive subjects, I love both of my subjects and I love teaching. Teaching remains both exciting and rewarding for me whether at school or when giving cookery lessons and recipe demonstrations.
Best Home Cook (BBC television)
Cooking has always been a significant part of my life, inspired by my gran and my mum, so to have been chosen as one of the 10 contestants on the first series of BBC1’s Best Home Cook (2018) was an honour.
I enjoyed every moment of my time on the show and I have so many great memories. However, to have had Mary Berry herself standing over me during an elimination challenge while I was making her strawberry meringue roulade (one I’d first made decades ago from one of her books)…what an honour!
You can read all about my exploits on the programme here.
A happy world of cooking
I love all cooking; for me it is the best way to lose myself in a very happy world. It is almost a form of therapy for me, and it is certainly my “go to” when I want to relax. Often if I am not in the kitchen, I am planning recipes or working out how to recreate a delicious dish I have enjoyed in a restaurant.
I have been excited through my cooking to have published several of my recipes in Sainsbury’s Magazine, Delicious Magazine and BBC Good Food Magazine:
Before Best Home Cook, and not long after I started this website, one of my cooking achievements I was most proud of (and surprised by!) was to have my cake that was commissioned by Sainsbury’s Magazine voted by readers as their “best ever celebration cake”: bizarrely amid competition such as Nadia Hussain, Mary Berry and so many others I admire.
An unapologetic bias towards baking
I love to cook anything and baking features heavily in my repertoire as this was the area of cooking that first captured my attention as a boy.
On so many occasions when I have needed an escape, baking has never failed to make me happy and evoke so many happy memories of decades gone by, not least cooking with my mum and my gran.
But whatever I cook, as soon as I step into the kitchen, I get this wonderful feeling of everything being well with the world.
Some of my greatest loves in cooking
Breads and pastries are among my greatest loves. These, for me, are the ultimate comfort foods: the total joy that should be had with a slice of home-made bread, toasted and buttered…bliss!
With all my cooking, I love the fact that you can make great dishes often with just what is lying around the fridge and the cupboards. Opening the fridge to decide what to cook is always an exciting feeling for me: even though I normally know what is in the fridge, it is nonetheless like an Aladdin’s cave of treasures just begging to be used. Similarly, left-overs are always a great opportunity……
Some of my recipes based on what is likely to be in the cupboards, fridge and freezer can be found here.
For decades I have been fascinated by laminated doughs: freshly baked croissants that shatter as you bite into them, giving way to a buttery honeycomb interior form my ideal breakfast – especially when eaten with home-made strawberry jam and freshly ground coffee.
I adore Afternoon Tea; a food event in its own right, there is nothing like an Afternoon Tea to create a real sense of occasion and give a warm satisfaction as you tuck into the treasure trove of goodies – both sweet and savoury – on offer. My post about Afternoon Tea, which has menu ideas and recipe links is here: Afternoon Tea
Although savoury food is my preference when it comes to eating (with the possible exception of anything chocolatey!), I love making and decorating cakes: the cutting of a cake to be shared with others is a terrific social joy.
While the simplicity and taste of a Victoria Sandwich, for example, is hard to beat, I aim for my more elaborate cake attempts to scream “eat me”, but my primary goal is for the flavour to shine.
My love of retro food!
While I love to cook anything, I certainly have a soft spot “retro” food, but I am also inspired by current trends IF the end result is a good plate of food that is not overly fussy. I am currently re-working many of my recipes to give guidelines for diary-free versions: and if I can crack a dairy-free croissant then I will be a very happy boy indeed!
Basically, if it tastes great, regardless of the era from whence it came, then I want to know how to make it!
Reviving dishes that have either fallen out of fashion or are all but forgotten, is of great interest to me, and I always get joy when I research such dishes and make them at home.
Putting my twist on favourites
I love to put my own stamp on food, whether incorporating a subtle twist or going all out with a full re-working. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t – but that is all part of the fun of cooking.
My kedgeree-inspired tarts, which were selected by BBC Good Food Magazine as their Readers’ Recipe in their 25th Anniversary issue, are my affectionate homage to that great dish. My recipe for these tarts can be found here.
Cooking with the seasons
Making use of seasonal produce is an important part of my approach in all of my cooking and I particularly love the challenge of finding new dishes with the produce.
We are fortunate to have an allotment which is a great haven. In any month of the year there is produce that can be made great use of in the kitchen – and that never fails to both excite and inspire me.
It is probably greedy to have other ambitions after Best Home Cook, but I will allow myself a moment of greed! My other ambitions include:
- To do more professional food writing, such as offering tips and ideas for cooking great food seasonally and simply.
- To publish a cookery book: I create recipes all the time, of which only a small proportion are on this website, and I have several book ideas drafted.
- I have a weakness for some reality TV and would love to dance on Strictly, go into “the jungle” (if they ever let a non-celeb on) or to critique telly on Gogglebox…….dreams of so many years.
All insanely daft dreams, but it is fun to dream!
Please feel free to get in touch, as I love to chat with others. I can be emailed here or contacted on social media by clicking the relevant buttons on the top right of this page.