INTERVIEW: We chat with celebrity Chef Phil Vickery!

TV presenter and author Phil Vickery has been an integral part of the This Morning family for nearly 25 years and is firmly regarded as one of Britain’s favourite chefs. This summer, you can catch him at Three Counties Food & Drink Festival, which runs on 27th & 28th July at Three Counties Showground, Malvern.

Here Sally Thomson catches up with Phil to have a chat about food and the delights of enjoying good dishes…

This morning I watched a little short video of you and your daughter Winnie. You were having a chat about the joys of fresh produce in the springtime, in particular talking about asparagus, raspberries and strawberries and how much you love this time of year.

I do love it and Jersey royals are a favourite of mine in the first salad. I love all that sort of stuff and as a seasoned chef, which I’ve always been, we were always taught fresh is best.

So you were always interested in regional, local produce?

Yes, I’ve always cooked that way my whole life. There is something absurd about eating a raspberry from Guatemala in February. I like to cook seasonal.

Yes, I feel exactly the same as that. I like to try and grow my own produce as well. I’ve got raspberry canes in the garden which I enjoy.

I have a beautiful new kitchen garden at home, I am enjoying the new crops I am growing this year. It’s nice to look forward to the first game in season: the first pheasant, or the first roe buck. It’s always been a priority of mine.

So do you live out in the wilds?

Yes, I live in the country.

Well, we’re very lucky. We’ve got loads of pheasants in our garden but I couldn’t do anything with them. I just let them wander around.

Oh, I like to eat them. It’s nice to look forward to the first game in season: the first pheasant, or the first roe buck. Bear in mind, when I was a young chef, there were so many pheasants around that they were bred as game birds. But it’s always been very important to me that we cook in season. And that will never change. I was born up in Folkestone in Kent. I’ve always had sort of an outdoorsy life. I’ve done a variety of things and I’m largely self-taught. 

You spent quite a lot of time in Taunton, didn’t you, at the Castle Hotel?

I did. Yeah, that’s really where I made my name. I was told “Oh, you’re a good lad, but you probably won’t get the job at the Castle.” I was like, “Okay, fair enough, but I’ll help you.” Meanwhile I had nine very happy years there (at The Castle), and I was very lucky. 

I was adding up, and if I’m correct, you’ve actually produced 18 cookbooks. Are you planning on writing another?

Never say never!

Well, you should be slowing down, but you say you’re A part time farmer as well, what animals do you keep?

I just keep pigs, it’s quite a small farm, but I love it, I enjoy it, I love the outdoors.

So you haven’t got goats or anything like that?

I thought that I’d get into donkeys at one point, but one of my brother’s a farrier, and he said he won’t come to clip them because they’re difficult. He’s probably put me off the idea a little bit. But no, I love the outdoor life and the older I get, the more I crave it. When I was at the Castle, the kitchen was underground. I spent ten years of my life not knowing what the weather was like outside!

So in terms of your plans this year, you’re going to be at the Three Counties Food and Drink Festival?

I am indeed. I love cooking at festivals. I am especially looking forward to climbing that hill in Malvern and getting the view across the whole vista up there, it’s sensational. It’s beautiful. I was very impressed. At the festival I love being live, I can interact with the audience a bit more, have a bit of a laugh. I really enjoy it, it’s great to meet everyone and chat food!

Are you allowed to say what you’re going to cook this time?

It will be seasonal. It might be a bit of pork, I’m not quite sure yet. It depends what the weather is like. If the weather’s hot, then I’ll do light food. If it’s a bit grim and overcast, then I’ll do some other stuff.

So will it be within a marquee?

Yes, it will be, it’s a great location, over 500 seats inside. We have a great set up for my two demo’s, I’ll be there on Saturday 27th July.

Do you know any of the other chefs who are turning up?

Rachel Allen, Marcus Bean are there, Chris Bavin might be there one day too.

I think Cyrus Todiwala is going to be there.

Oh, I love Cyrus. What a lovely bloke.

I interviewed him a few weeks ago. He’s charming.

He’s a seriously good cook and understands the British palate very well. He has done for years. He was way ahead of his time.

So would you ever like to have your own cookery programme or a slot?

I’m happy working on This Morning. I’ve been all around the world on This Morning. I’ve cooked on the Great Barrier Reef. I’ve cooked outside the Sydney Opera House. I’ve been all over India, Namibia, Norway, Alaska and I’ve been to Peru. I’ve been very lucky.

They’re looking after you properly then and giving you an opportunity to enjoy the great wide yonder.

I think after 25 years, I’ve been very lucky. 

So what’s going to be your go-to dish for this evening? What are you going to cook for yourself?

This evening, I might have some Arctic char. It’s like an oily fish, a bit like salmon. It’s lovely, a beautiful fish, they do have a very mild salmon flavour. Perhaps with some Jersey Royals and some roasted English asparagus. 

See Phil Vickery and many other TV chefs at the Three Counties Food & Drink Festival this summer on 27th & 28th July at Three Counties Showground, Malvern. WR13 6NW. With advance tickets from just £12 VIP and Family ticket options also available.

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Author: Minerva Studio