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Marlow celebrity chef releases new book ahead of TV series
TOM Kerridge is a busy man. So busy that one week he went to bed for just five nights rather than seven.
The celebrity chef has just released his first cook book, Tom Kerridge's Proper Pub Food, to go alongside his TV show which will be aired next month, and this was all while running his two star Michelin pub, The Hand and Flowers, in Marlow.
Tom Kerridge is the only British chef who has earned two Michelin stars by cooking in a pub and we are lucky enough to have The Hand and Flowers on our doorstep in Marlow.
He opened it in 2005 with his wife, Beth, who he has been married to for 13 years and they have never looked back.
It is now so booked up the first available Saturday evening table for two is in April 2014, with the first available lunch in about a month's time.
As well as cooking at the popular pub he has been filming his new series, Proper Pub Food, which will be shown on BBC2 and writing the cook book to go with it.
He said: "The last six months have been the busiest time ever: doing the TV show and the book and running a restaurant.
"You can't plan for it."
While he was writing his book, which came out on Thursday, he was still working at the pub. He was getting up at 6.30am, writing until he stopped to do the lunch time service, then in the afternoon he would write again before stopping for dinner service.
Then once he had finished that he wrote until 2am. That was his life for about three months.
Tom said: "It was a big old process to get it done. Two of the photo book shoots we did them overnight- it was the only time we could fit it in the schedule.
"That was the week I went to bed five times rather than seven.
"It was brilliant- what a phenomenal experience. "It was amazing to be asked and to do something like that."
There are more than 100 recipes in different sections including breakfasts, soups and salads, meat and puddings.
And for someone who left school at 15, he said he found it hard to put pen to paper, and it was like all the projects he never did came back to haunt him.
The recipes are quite chef based but kept at the basics- they are not quick but are for people who really love food and want to take the time to cook a great meal.
Recipes include Proper Baked Beans on Soda Bread Toast, Warm Tomato, Onion and Bread Salad with Beef Dripping Dressing and Fish and Chips with Pear Purée and Tartare Sauce.
Every recipe was hand written and he thanked his PA, Alex Longstaff, for writing it all up.
He said: "It was a real labour of love and effort to get it done. Alex worked very hard to get it down. "She should be as proud of this book as myself."
And that is one of the most notable things about Tom- he is very modest and keen to make sure he does not get all the praise.
He has worked with well-known chefs such as Phillip Britten, Stephen Bull and Gary Rhodes in Michelin starred restaurants and featured on TV shows The Great British Menu, Saturday Kitchen, Food and Drink and The Great British Food Revival.
As well as this he is the only chef who has earned two Michelin stars by cooking in a pub.
He said: "It is something every chef, everywhere, would like to achieve and to achieve it in a pub- the first pub to have ever done it- it is just amazing. We are just overwhelmed.
"It is not me. It is the team- that is the main thing. Everything we achieve is down to a huge amount of team work."
He praised his sous chef Nick Beardshaw, head chef Aaron Mulliss and general manager Lourdes Dooley. There are 16 chefs in total at the pub.
And Tom emphasised that he cooks there as much as he can, as that is the only business he has and it is incredibly important to him.
He said: "Me and my wife lived in London for about ten years. We moved out to Marlow- we knew it anyway- it is a great little town.
"It just appealed to us so much. We saw the pub and we knew it was the right one.
"The appeal of the place is just amazing- we knew it would work.
"Nine years down the line and I am absolutely in love with every single brick in this building. I love it more than anything. It is like another member of the family."
But amazingly he said he still worries about whether people will keep coming.
He said: "The fear you feel is still massive. Every day I fear no-one is going to come and people don't like it."
And essentially he wants everybody to feel comfortable in the Hand and Flowers.
He said: "Anybody could come and eat here. It doesn't matter what social background or where they are from.
"I grew up in a fairly simple home in a single parent family with nothing. I just wanted to cook great food in a space I felt comfortable.
"I would much rather be somewhere wearing jeans and trainers than wearing a suit.
"Some of the biggest compliments I have ever had are from people who have never eaten at a Michelin starred restaurant and have had a lovely time.
"We have wonderful customers eating here who have eaten all of the world and compare us to other restaurants- that is a wonderful compliment and thank you very much.
"But for me if it is someone's first experience to eat in a Michelin star restaurant and choose to eat with us and feel comfortable- that is really great.
"It doesn't have to be this stuffy, quiet dining room. It is not always about pompous fine dining- but having fun in a great place."
Tom lives in Bisham with his wife, Beth, who runs the business and who he said is the "greatest".
She is a trained artist and studied sculpture at John Moores Liverpool University and the Royal College of Art, and then apprenticed under Sir Anthony Caro.
She said she would give Tom three years to help him set up the restaurant (which turned into five to six) but now she has returned to art, as well as running the business.
They also have three dogs, an 11-year-old cocker spaniel called Marley, a five year old boxer called Sponge and a six month old French bulldog called Inky.
He said he loves living in the area and the support from the community has been amazing.
He also said we are very lucky in the area with great places to eat from The Waterside Inn at Bray to The Artichoke in Amersham.
He said: "There are so many great places in and around this area where you can go and get great food. We live in a great part of the country for food that is not in London.
"There couldn't be a better part of the world to be in right now."
Tom Kerridge's Proper Pub Food is available to buy online and from all good bookstores, priced at £20.
His new series starts next month on BBC2. Tom will also be at The Thame Food Festival on September 28.
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