Lovin’ the oven and the wide open road...

James Martin with his Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle

James Martin with his Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle

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James Martin may work down south, but he’s still a true Northerner, as ANNA CRYER reports

He’s the Yorkshire chef who’s graced TV screens for 20 years.

I’m private about home though, it’s the only oasis you have got

James Martin

And now James Martin’s hitting the road with his first live tour, which comes to Preston’s Guild Hall in March.

While he may come from the wrong side of the Rose county borders, having been born and brought up on the Castle Howard estate, where his family were farmers, in North Yorkshire, much of James’ adult life has seen him working in the south.

“I still have a home in Yorkshire,” he said. “You can’t take the North out of me.

“I’m private about home though, it’s the only oasis you have got.

“People use their family and home to promote stuff, but your career is one thing and home another. If you invite cameras and crew in it blurs things.

“Yes, the Home Comforts series is filmed in part of the house,” he admits, when challenged.

“I’m very aware of what they shoot though as I’m involved in the edit so it’s not a free for all.”

And he’s also regularly in Manchester, being very much hands on in the kitchen of his James Martin Restaurant venture, seeing it recently named among the Sunday Times’ top 100 restaurants for 2015.

“I don’t tell anybody [in advance] when I’m going to be in there,” he said. “There’s the power of social media but I don’t do that thing where I say I’m there.

“When I pop my head out from the kitchen diners are surprised, but it’s important for the team who are there on a daily basis that I do come.”

James first came to fame as one of the professionals on Ready, Steady, Cook, drawing fans for his strapping, handsome looks and trendy bandanas.

It’s 20 years next month since he made his small-screen debut, going on to host BBC1’s Saturday morning magazine show Saturday Kitchen for the past decade.

But it’s only recently that he’s agreed to stage a tour, coming up with the Plates, Mates And Automobiles concept with Live Nation – combining his love of the professional kitchen with motor sport and cars, promising film clips relating to his car collection, and guests 
selected as people he 
‘admires and likes’.

“I’ve been asked for 12, 14 years to do a tour, but these guys wanted to put on a show rather than see me make an eight-strand plait loaf,” he said, of the decision.

“I didn’t want a cooking demo, although obviously that’s an important part of it.

“But it’s Plates, Mates And Automobiles. There will be different guests in the various locations, and social 
media will be a big part of it.

“I’m already practising seven days week for it, literally two hours every day.

“I wanted to make it special, different, unique and fun, informative as well, something for people to get in to.

“I also didn’t want it to be Saturday Kitchen; it’s 20 years of work, knowledge and experience put together in an hour and 50 minutes.”

• James Martin: Plates, Mates And Automobiles, Guild Hall, Preston, Wednesday, March 9. Tickets cost £30 (plus £4.70 fees).