Celebrity chef Rick Stein: I am very good at DIY

January 29, 2017
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Rick SteinGETTY

‘The bravest thing I’ve ever done is… open my first restaurant in Padstow in 1975’


Not a lot of people know this but I’m very good at… DIY. I love it. I enjoy mending leaking pipes and dodgy plugs, as it helps me to unwind when my mind is on something else. I’m pretty good at it – no one has ever been harmed by one of my repairs.

My best friend is… Johnny Walter. I’ve known him most of my life. When I’m in Cornwall, we meet at the local pub for an hour three times a week on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. We discuss the most boring things on earth like cars and fishing trips. We’re like the grumpy old men.

My nickname is… I used to be called Cat at school. My wife now calls me Tricks.


I’m too keen for people to like me

Rick Stein


The bravest thing I’ve ever done is… open my first restaurant in Padstow in 1975. It was incredibly hard work and very stressful, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The restaurant business has been very good to me.

My favourite TV show is… either Poldark or Victoria. The plot in Poldark is a bit silly, but 

I love that it’s filmed in Cornwall. The costumes and sets are very authentic, and the acting and storylines in Victoria are brilliant. 

I used to love flicking between the channels on a Sunday.

My perfect evening is… cooking healthy food for my wife and stepkids. I eat out a lot, so being at home is just great. I usually make a chicken rice recipe that I picked up in Thailand years ago. The chicken has to be boiled before adding in chillies, ginger, soy and white pepper. Then you make a kind of pilaf. It’s delicious.

My first kiss was with… Mary Elizabeth Evans. She was the local vicar’s daughter in Oxfordshire where I lived as a child. I was 14 and astounded at how much fun it was.

My biggest regret is… It’s a bit silly but recently when I was working, my wife and stepkids went on holiday to Miami without me. They visited a restaurant called Joe’s Stone Crab. It’s world famous for seafood, which I love, and they told me it was delicious. 

I was very jealous.

The one thing I’d change about myself is… I’m too keen for people to like me. If I didn’t care so much, I would be more decisive. I spend a lot of time concerning myself with what other people will think of my actions, which makes me very indecisive.

The best thing my parents taught me was… a love offood. I fished with my dad and my mum was a great cook, although I didn’t help out in the kitchen. It was similar with my three boys and my ex-wife Jill.

We always cooked for them when they were little and they too now have a love and understanding of food.

Rick SteinGETTY

‘The one thing I’d change about myself is… I’m too keen for people to like me’

The last time I cried was… I find it very hard to cry – I don’t tend to burst into tears. I’m not being manly. It’s just how it is. I can be tearful during a film but that’s usually as far as it goes.

The first record I ever bought was… Not Fade Away by Buddy Holly and the Crickets. 

The fact that it is American and nothing like anything I’d heard locally was a big draw. The rhythm just blew me away. I still love it today. It’s better than the version by The Rolling Stones.

It’s not good for my image but 

I like… hamburgers. I don’t mind going into burger chains to eat them. They are the perfect meal. They’re like fish and chips. Everyone secretly likes them as it’s the kind of food you can just get stuck into.

My greatest weakness is… a lack of concentration when 

I’m trying to write my books. I’ll find any reason not to work and am usually distracted by the fridge. I’ll happily cook something when I’m supposed to be writing.

I drive… a Porsche. An ageing black one. I don’t use it very often but I really like it. It’s not the sort of car I thought I’d buy but it happens as you get older. I drive 

it when I’m back in Cornwall.

The shop I can’t walk past is… the Harrods Food Hall. Upstairs at Harvey Nichols is great, too. I love to see what people are serving, what’s new. I recently walked past a shop on the King’s Road, which had a window piled high with baguettes filed with Iberico ham. 

I bought one and it was delicious. I thought that was a clever idea.

My perfect Sunday is… lunch with my family. I’ll happily cook a roast but if I can find a great pub, even better. There’s nothing like it. I’m always torn between the beef or pork but good vegetables such as fresh cabbage and roots, cooked thoughtfully, are a must.

My favourite place in Britain is… I have to say Cornwall. I’ve had a very happy life living there. The pace of life is much slower and it is just incredibly beautiful. Whenever I’ve been away, I love coming back to Padstow.

My last holiday was… at the La Colombe d’Or hotel just outside Nice. It’s very traditional and the menu hasn’t changed for about 30 to 40 years. You get to have all of the French meals you dream of such as steak Bordelaise and chicken fricassee. It’s a fantastic place to stay.

I’m currently reading… Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett. My dad was bipolar and it’s about a family in a similar situation. It’s very good.

The best day of my life was… my son Ed being born. Obviously the birth of all my children has been monumental, but the first one is quite unbelievably special. Your world changes for the better. It’s something of a miracle.

If I had half an hour left on Earth… I’d cook a Dover sole and listen to some opera. Bellini’s opera Norma is a particular favourite at the moment, so I think that would have to be playing in the background. 

Rick Stein’s Long Weekends (BBC Books, £25) is out now. See Express Bookshop at expressbookshop.co.uk.



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