Tony Tobin prepares for the London Marathon

Kitchen Diaries: Our celebrity chef Tony Tobin on why food is so much more than just fuel

Originally published by Surrey Life magazine March 2009Kitchen Diaries: Our celebrity chef Tony Tobin on why food is so much more than just fuelThe human race has built some impressive and complex creations over the centuries: suspension bridges, Swiss watches, spinning jennies, Bugatti Veyrons, supercomputers... even Heston Blumenthal puddings! Pieces of technology so complicated that I get brain-ache just thinking about them are a walk in the park for boffins these days. As the voice-over used to say at the beginning of The Six Million Dollar Man TV programme (for readers over 40 among you!), "We have the technology". It certainly proved true for Steve Austin. He had a nasty car crash, so they stuck some whizzy new metal limbs on to him, popped in a magnifying eye and he woke up a few days later able to run faster than Usain Bolt and capable of seeing a gnat's wings flutter at a hundred paces. Without wanting to get too coarse, the thing that used to intrigue me about Steve Austin was where they put the batteries (answers on a postcard). And as a chef, I can tell you, he didn't get all that power from salads. Now, if you haven't guessed where I'm going with this yet, consider this: the issue with technology, planes, trains and automobiles is that the parts are manufactured beforehand and just require us to plug the power in to animate them. Petrol and diesel go into cars, electricity goes into iPods and PCs, rocket fuel goes into rockets... The fuel doesn't build the machine, it just powers it. My issue when I go into a supermarket and see people in front of me piling the conveyor belt with pastries, crisps, fizzy drinks and ready meals is that they don't seem to have realised that humans are not like cars and iPods. Food isn't just fuel, it's the building blocks of our very bodies. If you take a tiny baby, its journey from 7lb newborn to 17-stone rugby player doesn't involve the parents buying and fitting new parts. It is only about two types of fuel: the air he breathes and the food he eats. Food for thought When people say 'you are what you eat', they are correct in a very literal sense. Every follicle, every muscle, every roll of fat, every artery and every brain cell has been manufactured by our wonderful bodies from the food we eat and the liquid we drink. What's more, the quality, resilience and good functioning of all our bits is based on the quality of the ingredients. Great sportsmen eat well. Chris Hoy eats well. So does Usain Bolt. So does Wayne Rooney. I can guarantee it because what you put in is linked in the most fundamental way to what you get out. If you want to be well, eat well! Sermon over. The other reason I've taken this route is because it leads very nicely into an introduction to Matthew's Friends. It is a charity that I am proud to be the patron of, and it is devoted to teaching families bringing up children with severe epilepsy how a special diet - called the ketogenic diet - can often help to bring relief to their children's symptoms when traditional drug regimes don't work. The charity has worked with medical experts to build on the idea that what we eat can change things. It has developed diets based on using predominantly fats rather than carbohydrates for energy. This in turn fuels the brain in a different way and can help to reduce the seizures in some affected children. There's no better example of just how important diet can be in our body's functioning - and for good measure I'm going to put the website address at the bottom along with a link to my own justgiving website page so that you too can sponsor me when I run the London Marathon for Matthew's Friends later this year. Finally, I will offer you a recipe for March that will give you some fantastic ingredients to sample as you begin the process of building your own body into peak early spring fitness. It is my seared tuna steak with warm crushed potato and wasabi salad. It is also absolutely scrumptious so don't get the impression that I've suddenly gone all health-food fanatic on you!

If you would like to sponsor Tony to run the London Marathon, visit: For more information about the charity, see their website at

Tony Tobin's seared Tuna with warm crushed potato and wasabi saladIngredients

2 x150g fresh tuna steaks 10 new potatoes 100g fresh rocket salad 1 beef tomato ( seeded and chopped) 2 teaspoons of wasabi paste 4 tablespoons of virgin olive oil 1 lemon


Boil the new potatoes for 20 minutes and allow them to cool. Wash the rocket and coarsely chop. Mix it with the chopped tomatoes. Whisk the wasabi with the olive oil and squeeze the juice from the lemon into it. Reheat the potatoes in boiling water, remove and crush with the back of a fork. Add the potatoes to the tomatoes and rocket, and then season with a little of the wasabi dressing. Cook the tuna very quickly on a hot griddle pan. Spoon the salad into the centre of your plates and top with the tuna. Drizzle the remaining dressing around the sides. Serve quickly.

Tony Tobin has been a regular on the BBC's Ready Steady Cook for over a decade and runs two acclaimed restaurants in Surrey: The Dining Room in Reigate and POST in Banstead.

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