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Vernon Kay talks food, family and turning 40 with Beefeater

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Vernon Kay teamed up with Beefeater this summer to celebrate that they both marked their 40th birthdays this year. Over the past few months 'Boss of Beef' Vernon has hosted a birthday party, presented a competition results shows and even dressed up as Jennifer Lawrence's Hunger Games character Katniss Everdeen for the family-friendly restaurant chain's campaign, The Hungry Games.As the campaign drew to a close, Vernon spoke to HELLO! Online about turning 40, getting children to eat healthily and how his daughters Phoebe and Amber are looking forward to seeing mum Tess Daly return to Strictly Come Dancing this month.

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Vernon at Beefeater's 40th birthday party

 You've been very busy with Beefeater and their Hungry Games campaign, how have you found it?

It's been really good. Like the game shows I do it's great meeting the people and we've had a great cross section of Great Britain involved in the campaign. People have taken part from all over the country with their families and their kids so it's been true to what Beefeater represents which is getting families around the table, putting down the technology and spending time together.

As it's such a family-focussed campaign were your own family at the final? 

No they couldn't sadly because they've got dancing. Amber does ballet and Phoebe does modern dance on a Saturday so that's their priority on a weekend.

As a family do you enjoy visiting Beefeater?

Yes absolutely and I really do because I'm trying to put on weight for my American football so steak and carbohydrates are the main order of the day.

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"Steak and carbohydrates are the main order of the day"

Would you say you're a foodie? 

I like food but I'm not very good at cooking it. I think with family events it's just as important to be enjoying each other's company, although I know that's really cheesy! But especially with kids these days where the world moves so fast it’s nice to down tools and sit round the table and chat.

Both you and Beefeater turned 40 this year, did you grow up with their restaurants? 

Absolutely. Especially in Bolton there has always been a Beefeater and it's in a really good spot that we used to drive past a lot so I feel like it's always been there.

What kind of food did you like when you were growing up? 

We always had the traditional meat and two veg. My mum and dad were conscious of cooking traditionally and making sure we ate our vegetables and got protein from meat so there were lots of roast dinners, cottage pies and things like that – we never had a red wine jus!

Do your daughters like the same sorts of food that you did? 

Our kids become adventurous when we go on holiday, they'll try new things. I think you have got to be conscious about the nutrition you give your kids. With problems like obesity and children concentrating at school I think you've got to give them a nutritious menu. We try to give them fish, meat and veg and there are always fresh snacks on the go. I think it's easy to be responsible about food. I don't believe everyone has to eat processed food when there is a lot of cheap fresh food out there that you can sustain a healthy diet.

Its laziness when people don't take responsibility, that all it is. People can’t be bothered putting a carrot in a pan to steam it, they'd rather put something in the microwave and press start and I don't believe in that.


Vernon and his wife Tess Daly

As it's September now are your kids back off to school? Have they got their healthy packed lunches? 

Absolutely! They've got a lot of carrot batons and fresh fruit so they're all ready to go.

Your wife Tess is back on Strictly Come Dancing too this autumn, are you looking forward to that? 

Saturday nights are always a nice treat because I tend to take the girls out for something to eat and then we get back and dress up and watch Strictly.

I wear a tuxedo or one of my dinner suits and the girls wear their Disney princess outfits. They really love it!

What was the highlight of your summer working with Beefeater? 

The best bit for me was the 40th birthday party we had. It's always nice to meet the customers and I am a people person so I like finding out what they like and what they're up to. Being from a traditional northern family myself it's like a home from home for me. I enjoyed that night and I enjoyed dressing up in the Hunger Games outfit for the campaign as well.

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How have you found turning 40? 

It's fine because I still feel like I'm 19. I think age is about how you feel and how you motivate yourself, it's not as though I hit 40 and thought I'm going to stop and give up on my goals, that's rubbish because age is irrelevant. I still love sport, I've got a young family and I love doing stuff with them.I feel I just turned 18 except that I had one grey eyebrow! But that's the only thing I noticed and that's gone now - it didn't last long! I got asked for ID the other day so I was chuffed.

What's next on the agenda then?

I've got the British National America Football Final, were national champions at the moment so we’re going to try and retain the title although our head coach says we're not retaining or defending it, he says we’re going to win it again. I've got a new show on ITV coming out, more Family Fortunes and the American football season starts on Channel 4 so I'm doing that.

I love being involved with the NFL we use the football as a mentoring tool a lot for people in the community. And of course I'm involved with Beefeater. They’re so family orientated and it's all very social so I'm very busy.