At the BBC Good Food Show I caught up, backstage, with Brian Turner. Brian, who was the first chef in the UK to win a Michelin star, is not only is a familiar face on our TV screens, but has written eleven cook books, works tirelessly behind the foodie scenes and supports many charities. He has also been awarded a CBE to his services to tourism and training in the catering industry, along with many other awards and accolades. In person Brian Turner is exactly the same as he appears on our screens, a very friendly and welcoming man, who is passionate about food, where it comes from and training the chefs of the future.
You’re a passionate Yorkshire man, what do you do to promote local produce?
Yorkshire is a wonderful place and I talk about the great produce all the time. I was given an ambassadorial award from Yorkshire Life Magazine for championing Yorkshire. I get involved as much as I can in local events, this year I’m closing the Leeds Loves Food food festival. Yorkshire has great soil and a fantastic coastline and this translate to great produce. There is a common sense of reducing the carbon footprint, but it is about balancing the local availability with the quality of the product.
What’s your favourite ingredient?
I don’t have a favourite, it’s all about everything being seasonal and great new flavours. You can’t beat the first English cherries or asparagus. It’s about getting the right produce at the right time and creating a dish that celebrates this.
Back in 2002 you had a restaurant here in Birmingham, do you think you would ever return to the City?
Probably not, there aren’t enough hours and I have lots of other projects taking up my time. Having said that if the right proposition came up, who knows.
You’ve had a long career, what has been the highlight?
I’ve been very fortunate and had many highlights, but the highest has to be meeting the Queen and receiving my CBE. To have received this award really does mean a lot.
What do you think of the new TV cookery programmes?
There is a constant desire to get bigger and better, thereby loosing track of the basics. You need to stay in touch with people, you don’t need to push the barriers and create fine dining cuisine all the time, a good mix always works. There’s nothing wrong with sausage and mash, something I cooked recently on Saturday Kitchen.
I feel like I just touched the surface with Brian, I’d liked to have talked to him more about his work in training young people and the Schools Future Chefs competition as well as getting some much needed cooking tips.