Celebrity chef James Martin shares secrets behind kitchen doors ahead of restaurant launch at Manchester235

By Danielle Wainwright

Cooking connoisseur James Martin is bringing his food expertise from his successful TV show Saturday Kitchen to one of Manchester’s finest nightspots – opening to 120 lucky dinner guests on September 26.

Opening his new self-titled restaurant James Martin at Manchester235, the 41-year-old will be taking over the former Linen restaurant to launch his own classic British cuisine promising to be ‘big on flavour and uncontrived in its simplicity’.

Ahead of the highly-anticipated launch night, James took time out from his busy schedule to chat with MM about his prestigious career shaped around his passion for the kitchen.

First appearing in 1996 on TV’s James Martin: Yorkshire’s Finest, he then went on to make a name for himself in Ready Steady Cook and as the host of Saturday Kitchen.

James has finally put together a dream team in time for the upcoming launch night spoke about the confidence and trust he holds for his new cooks.

“I am finally getting to meet my new team today,” he said

“It’s very exciting, it has been a long but very rewarding interview process, I met some new faces and surprisingly some familiar faces so I am taking them all go karting tonight for one last night before three and a half weeks of hard work and training begins tomorrow.

“When it comes to organising a team, you have to ensure that each person fits in with the style of the restaurant, I always have a particular style that will shape the team I want to work with.”

With the chefs ready, and the kitchen kitted out with brand new state-of-the-art equipment, James can now focus on ensuring each customer is well looked after and well fed.

He said: “The restaurant is changing a lot from what it was, it is quite a big restaurant and on Friday night we will expect around 500 to 1000 people to cater for, so we have a lot to think through about how to ease the movement of people.”

James has described his new menu as cooked with only ‘the best British ingredients’ mixed with a classical ‘provincial French style’.

He kept very secretive about his food, revealing only that his guests will be guaranteed ‘proper traditional food’.

“The idea for the meat is to use it from several different locations,” he said.

“Some will be from Dexter cattle in Northern Ireland and Redhill farm Lincoln with us choosing the best of what’s on offer and trust me there is a lot to choose from.”

With juggling a very successful TV career as well as his Talbot restaurant, how will James find time to command an army of chefs to cater for a lot of hungry Mancunians?

“I will be here a lot,” he said.

I have the Talbot as well and we have just changed the menu, but with Saturday Kitchen starting its new series I will be in Salford anyway at the BBC.

“That is part the reason that I agreed to take on the restaurant in Manchester235 when they approached me, I thought I’m here anyway so it makes a lot of sense.

“There is a great food scene in Manchester so I am excited to be part of that.”

With the new James Martin restaurant only a few weeks away and a new series of Saturday Kitchen airing this weekend, he admits that a well-deserved break this summer has him geared up to share his nation-renowned recipes with the public, as well as a return of the popular omelette challenge.

He said: “The idea behind the omelette challenge is to turn up the heat on famous chefs. They don’t usually make omelettes so it is great having some of the best cooks running the best restaurants in the world having to cook a dish they would usually not have to make, under pressure and live on TV.

“Paul Rankin currently holds the record with a time of 17 seconds but he practiced on 300 eggs before he went on Saturday Kitchen to be fair,” he admits.

And when asked who his favourite celebrity guest was?

“Jackie Collins was cool,” he said. “But we have a great guest on Saturday, definitely one for the ladies and he is flying in from LA.

“It’s quite unusual to get a cooking show with such a high quality of guests.”

James admitted that from a young age he has always been driven towards a career in cooking and was largely influenced by legendary TV chef Keith Floyd.

“Keith cooked in in the way which made TV so unique,” he exclaimed.

“He made cooking so accessible to everyone which is what I think cheffing is all about.

“He never pretended to be this huge great chef but he was a 100% food lover through and through and that passion came across in what he did.

“I grew up watching his show and found him fascinating; at the same time I was training with classical chefs so I must credit him for my love for cooking.”

And are there any future plans for James with such a demanding career?

“The world is a big place, Indian food fascinates me because it is that mixture of 50 countries in one.

“North Indian cooking is very different to the South and East is different to West and so on, it is a fascinating country.”

James Martin restaurant will open on September 26 serving food from 5pm to 11pm.

To book a reservation please click here.

Picture courtesy of Phil Dowsing Creative via Flickr, with thanks.

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