If you love nothing more than getting cosy on the couch, mug of tea in hand and Saturday Kitchen on the box, it’s likely you’re also a big foodie. And a passion for food generally comes with an ambition to follow in the footsteps of people like Saturday Kitchen presenter, James Martin.
But of course, James – and his cooking contemporaries - didn’t just wake up one morning and wander into the TV studio ready for filming. Like many in the food and drink industry, they worked their way up; starting at the bottom of the food filming chain, as it were, before landing a big role.
So, let’s see how James Martin made it into his current role as presenter on one of the most-watched TV programmes on Saturday morning.
He’s been presenting the show since 2006, but the chef – who’s now in his 40s – started out in the family kitchen. His parents were farmers on the Castle Howard estate and he began by helping his mother with the cooking. Of course, he quickly developed a real passion for all things culinary, before studying catering at Scarborough’s Technical College.
Before long, he’d made his way to France for some further training, after which he took a job at a 3 Michelin star restaurant in Roanne. Next came a stint working at One Ninety Queen’s Gate restaurant, under Anthony Worrall Thompson. Other jobs followed, with James working at Soho, London, Harvey’s in Wandsworth and The Square in Mayfair. At the tender age of 22, he set up the Hotel du Vin in Winchester, where he took the position of head chef.
It wasn’t for some years – back in 1996 - that he appeared on TV, starring in James Martin: Yorkshire’s Finest, before co-presenting BBC Food’s Stately Suppers with Alistair Appleton. Today, James continues to dominate our TV screens but it’s not through lack of hard work. Starting out in the leisure jobs industry following some gruelling culinary training set him up for a lengthy career which hasn’t yet revealed any signs of slowing down.
Rick Stein started his career in much the same way and has recently appeared on TV’s Saturday Kitchen as a guest presenter. A restaurateur and head chef, Rick has penned a number of cookery books and starred in a host of TV programmes. Like James, his route into the industry was one which wasn’t short of hard work and dedication.
Completing a hotel management traineeship with British Transport Hotels, he then went on to get a job as a chef with the company. Working there for six months, he later moved to Australia to work as a clerk in a naval dockyard. A quick break from the food industry was just what the chef needed, and some years later he moved to Padstow where he eventually opened a restaurant. The rest, as they say, is history.
While TV chefs like James Martin, Rick Stein and people like Sunday Brunch’s Tim Lovejoy appear to have landed on their feet work-wise, they have in fact put in the hard graft early on.
Want a career in cooking, too? The very best thing to do is look into taking on a relevant cooking course, while putting in some hours in your free time in a kitchen. There is no substitute for hands-on experience, but attending chef’s school will also prove invaluable. Why not look into it today and discover how you might follow in some of the top chefs’ footsteps.