TV chef James Martin is a man clearly used to multi-tasking. When we speak on the phone, he is making a Swiss roll at the same time.
Of course, talking and cooking at the same time have become a way of life for the north Yorkshire farmer’s son who has just announced that he is stepping down as host of BBC show Saturday Kitchen after 10 years.
He’s come a long way from his days as a 16-year-old at catering college in Scarborough on a journey that included working as a pastry chef for Anthony Worrall Thompson and moving on to three Michelin-star hotels.
James has been on our TV screens for 20 years.
He said: “I became a pastry chef by default. The pastry chef went to the toilet and disappeared! By just before lunch, I was the pastry chef. I’ve never stopped doing it.”
Indeed, James has just brought out a book, Sweet, full of indulgent delights.
He said: “I get criticised for doing the full-fat version of dishes. It’s proper grub. I like what I like.”
This show, called Plates, Mates And Automobiles, is James’s first tour but he’s an old hand at performing live.
“After 20 years of doing this it becomes a habit and it’s about getting the right people around you more than anything else,” he said, referring to the production team who approached him about creating a live tour.
James admitted that a lot of hard work went into learning the art of live TV.
He said his favourite celebrity guest was the novelist Jackie Collins. “She was amazing. She was the only person in 10 years that’s written and thanked me very much for being on.”
James said he was “looking forward to getting stuck into my new projects and to lots of lie-ins on a Saturday morning”.
James said he also fought to have Keith Floyd’s shows on during Saturday Kitchen.
“He was unique and a one-off in terms of what he did.
“He had great repartee with people and he was a good raconteur with food.”
He said the show features “all manner of different stuff. I didn’t want it to be just me up on stage and a scone recipe.
“You won’t have seen anything like this before.”
The fast-moving, multi-media production will feature cooking demonstrations but James will also have special guests and will be talking about his love of fast cars and motorbikes too.
He said: “Everything you’ll see is interactive as well.
“Watching people cook can be quite boring, so I’m going to use social media as part of it.”
Plates, Mates and Automobiles iat Sheffield City Hall on Sunday, March 6.
Box office: at the venue, online at Sheffield City Hall or call 0114 2789789.