An interview with best-selling food writer and TV chef: Valentine Warner
The Courtyard Dairy speaks to Valentine Warner, best-selling food writer and TV chef to find out what makes Valentine tick, what he loves in the food world and his future projects…
What made you get into doing what you do?
I’ve always been interested in food, reading my mother’s cook books – we were a very greedy family. Both my parents were really interested in food, and great cooks. I went to art college and went into the artistic life (a portrait painter), but kept finding myself drawn back to food. I liked the rigour and regularity of working in it; so went to work as a chef at 23.
(Valentine then spent the next five years working in London restaurants for chefs such as Alastair Little and Rose Cararina, before he set up his own private catering company Green Pea and achieved success on TV and in writing his best-selling food books).
Describe a typical working day.
I have a very interesting and varied job, from TV to writing to consultancy. But a standard day involves me rising early, I don’t do cereal but instead have a good breakfast – eggs, pickled herrings, or something like that. I then often catch up on emails before switching my phone off and dedicating some time to writing. I also make sure my phone is switched off when we’re having lunch or dinner, it is important not to stroke this needy little electronic hamster all the time!
Do you have a favourite memory from your varied career?
Not so much favourite days but amazing weeks. Travelling across Scandinavia really blew my mind, it was such a mix with the cosmopolitan cities, then to remote rural communities, where actually away from the rich mix in the cities some of the more amazing food could be found. Out in these rural expanses, and beautiful forests – I love the outdoors – in places that you find remote communities there is still very strong cooking conditions traditions alive. The nature was amazing over there too, it was wonderful to be in a place where the natural world was so prevalent. I worry about what we are doing to nature and that we are ignoring it, we can’t be here without nature but it sure can be here without us.
When you are at home what is your staple dish for the family?
Fried rice. We’ve always got lots of bits in the fridge and the kids love it, so i tend to do egg fried rice for them with the bits that we have!
For me I really eat according to mood, sometimes I just fancy something and am very specific in my needs – it may be I need something pickled, or shellfish, and that’s what I fancy and will have to have.
What is your favourite place to go eat?
I love to sit ontop of Lewesdon hill (Dorset) and just admire the view and eat there. I love eating outdoors, I don’t think there is anything better. Eating fish in a harbour, or anywhere with a view of the sea is hard to beat too.
Do you have any other hidden foodie gems you think are worth people knowing about – shops, producers or otherwise?
Do you have a favourite cheese at the moment? If so, why is it your favourite?
If you had to choose a drink to go with cheese what would it be? and why?
Cider, once again we are a nation that is making some fabulous regional ciders and it goes great with food. I don’t think wine is always the answer – even some Saki’s can be a fantastic compliment to cheese.
What couldn’t you live without?
Anchovies, I feel anxious when I run out.
What is your plans for the future?
Aside from more filming and writing I wanted to set up something that truly belonged to me. And I am very interested in alcohol! So I am currently working on a distillery in Northumberland, it is built and are fully licenced. We are going to make a gin initially and then a whisky, we are utilising some modern equipment alongside our traditional stills, so watch this space.
Follow Valentine Warner on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/valentinewarner
Find out more about Valentine and his best-selling cookbooks (including the newly released ‘What to Eat Next” at): http://www.valentinewarner.com/