Celebrity Chef James Martin on his visit to Denby Pottery

James Martin takes to the stage at Denby

James Martin takes to the stage at Denby - Credit: Archant

Following his annual cookery demonstrations at Denby Pottery, James Martin chats to BBC Radio Derby’s Andy Potter...

Have you enjoyed your visit to Denby?

It’s been great and very busy, as it always is whenever I’m here. My chef, Chris Start, and I always look forward to coming.

The tickets sell-out for the cookery demonstrations beforehand which is brilliant because I often think that one day I’ll be cooking and no one will be watching! An added benefit this time was the food stalls outside and the fantastic weather.

Usually I will have been filming Saturday Kitchen in the morning and then I make my way up here as quickly as possible so we can get out on the golf course at Morley Hayes, which is always a highlight. I got my first ever hole in one and Morley Hayes very kindly gave me the club and ball.

You’re always spinning so many plates, is golf how you switch off?

Yes, it is. I do have a lot of work on at the moment but I enjoy it and wouldn’t want it any other way. I don’t really do it for financial reasons. I just love my job. Next year I’ll be celebrating 20 years in front of the TV cameras and to be still doing this is a privilege. I don’t know how long this will last. There are more young whippersnappers around me now than ever before!

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You don’t seem to have changed much since those early TV shows. Are you pickled in aspic?

I suppose I am, but because of the way food shows have changed I try to do things that I believe in and I enjoy. Television is an amazing medium because it can change people’s lives and I feel a huge responsibility. I always try my best and with the likes of Michael Parkinson (who James cooked for on TV show Parky’s Top Table) teaching you how to interview people, you learn from it.

Sometimes I do think, ‘This is amazing but what am I doing here? I’m just a farmer’s kid from Yorkshire!’ I’ve recently done a series on loneliness, depression and isolation – nothing to do with food but I feel it’s one of the best programmes I’ve made. The trouble with this job is you think you know where you’re going but you haven’t got a clue!

Your helicopter is here and you like your cars – are you living the dream?

I don’t know about that! The helicopter is extravagant but you only live once and I’m just obsessed with flying. I used to spend so much time on the road and did an average of around 80,000 miles per year, which is a tremendous amount of lost time, so I decided to get my pilot’s licence ten years ago. It means I can get home quickly and relax before I’m off again tomorrow at 6am!

‘Home Comforts’ by James Martin, published by Quadrille (£20), photographs c Yuki Sugiura, is the official tie-in book to the popular television series James Martin: Home Comforts, which returned to BBC TWO in January. The book sees James in his comfort zone, championing local produce and cooking the food he loves best.