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James Martin: Everything you need to know about the celebrity chef

The talented cook worked his way to the top

Sophie Hamilton

James Martin is one of the nation's most-loved TV chefs and we love tuning into his cooking show James Martin's Saturday Morning on the weekend.

He just seems like a really nice down-to-earth guy, who happens to cook on the telly – you can imagine having a good chat with him down the pub!

Many of us will remember James, 47, from his fun bandana-wearing days on nineties TV show Ready, Steady, Cook – and nearly 30 years on, the star has his own restaurants, numerous cookbooks and an idyllic country bolthole to escape to.
 

Want to know more about James Martin? Read on….

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WATCH: James Martin makes pasta for his village during the coronavirus lockdown

 

Where did James Martin grow up?

James was born in Malton, North Yorkshire on 30 June 1972. His family were farmers on the Castle Howard estate and his mum helped in the kitchen, which is the starting point for James' interest in cooking.

Where does James Martin live now?

The chef lives in a mystery country village, which by the look of his Instagram photos, is totally idyllic. The star recently posted a snap of his huge garden, backing onto picturesque fields. Until 2019, James lived in the Hampshire village of Stoke Charity, which is six miles from Winchester.

MORE: This chocolate and honey flapjack recipe is a lockdown must-try

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James Martin's back garden - what a view!

Is James Martin married?

No, but he is in a relationship with TV producer Louise Davies. They met on Celebrity Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and have been dating since 2011. The couple keep a low-profile, with James rarely speaking about his girlfriend in public or sharing photos of her on social media.

In 2018, James revealed he and Louise are not planning to marry, with the celebrity chef's focus on work.

"No, it doesn't interest me in the slightest, mainly because I've catered for so many weddings, really," he told Sunday People. "I admire people who do it, that's fine, but I'm quite happy. I don't need to spend 60 grand on a day, no, I'm more than happy thanks."

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James with his partner Louise

Does James Martin have children?

James doesn't have children. In a previous interview with Prima, he said on the topic: "The biggest low of my career is that I've given up everything for it. I look at my mates and they're all married with kids, and that's not the case for me because I've been so focused on work."

"The level of commitment it requires and the choices you have to make have a huge impact," he added. "But would I do the same thing again? Probably, because it's made me who I am. And why does everybody have to follow the norm anyway?"

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How long has James Martin presented Saturday Morning for?

The star began hosting his James Martin's Saturday Morning show in 2017, following his departure from BBC1's Saturday Kitchen, which he hosted for a decade from 2006.

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James on location filming

Why did James Martin leave Saturday Kitchen?

James revealed his reason for leaving the show on an appearance on Good Morning Britain in 2017, explaining how the sudden death of a stranger made him reconsider his position. "I was chatting to him and he stood up on stage and collapsed and passed away in front of me," he explained to Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid.

"That was just over a year ago and that was the decision to change," he added.

"I look back at all the work I'd done, I'd done like four days off that year and five days off the year before and I thought something's got to change. And that was partly the reason why I gave up the Saturday Morning show."

Does James Martin ever miss Saturday Kitchen?

James recently told HELLO!: "People say do you ever miss the live thing? I did live for 25 years. I don't know whether it's my age? I think I'm ok at live, but I've proved a point. Do I want to do live from my house every Saturday? No, because it's my house. I can film it when I want to film it, when the guests are free, when they want to come down.

"The guests seem to love it. They don't seem to realise until they get there that it's at your house. We had Ben Miller down… he didn't want to leave! Rob Rinder… he came down, didn't want to go. They love it because it's different and it's much more relaxed.

"I remember kicking Boyzone out at 2am, something like that. It's a chilled out show. It's difficult to do in this COVID world because you can't have an audience and we're on a third of the crew that we had before but so is everybody."

What other TV shows has James Martin appeared in?

The culinary whizz has previously starred in The Big Breakfast, Ready Steady Cook (from 1994 to 2010 as a guest chef), Strictly Come Dancing, Blue Peter and The Great British Village Show. He has also appeared in James Martin’s Great British Adventure, James Martin’s American Adventure and James Martin’s French Adventure.

Of his appearances on The Big Breakfast, he has said: "The bandana years! All a bit of a blur as I was working 18 hours in the kitchen, trying to mix cheffing, TV…and driving everywhere. I started prepping at 4am, got in car at 5am, got to The Big Breakfast at 7.30 am and was back in the car at 9am, heading back to start lunch service."

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The bandana years! James meets Prince Charles in 1999

Who was James Martin's dance partner on Strictly?

James partnered with Camilla Dallerup in the third series of Strictly, finishing in fourth place. He writes on his website: "2006 was a big year for me…Strictly…I had my first number one book in the charts, my first big solo presenting gig and Sweet Baby James was commissioned."

How did James Martin get into cooking?

On the biography section of James' website, he says: "My passion for food began when my father took the role of catering manager at the Castle Howard estate. At 13, a trip to the South of France in an HGV gave me the opportunity to really experience good food and wine in some of the best chateaux in France. I was hooked!"

James worked as a kitchen porter in a restaurant when he was just 10 years old. He posted a photo of himself in the role on his Instagram page, writing: "Old picture of a long time ago but the start of my journey to the kitchen. KP for a job from 10 years old until I got my first white jacket and apron... great memories."

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James as a kitchen porter in his childhood

Where did James Martin train to be a chef?

James started his catering training at Scarborough Technical College in 1988; he was 'student of the year' for three years running. "I pretty much owe my whole career to head lecturer Ken Allanson," says James on his website. "He managed to keep me humble and hungry enough to learn while building my confidence and self-belief. I went from bottom of the class to number one; from the one who’d never get anywhere to the one to watch."

MORE: Celebrity men who LOVE to cook: David Beckham, Bradley Cooper and more!

Which restaurants has James Martin worked at?

Following catering college, James trained at Hostellerie De Plaisance in Saint-Émilion, France before working at the 3 Michelin star restaurant Maison Troisgros in Roanne, France.

The star then landed a job at Anthony Worrall Thompson's One Ninety Queen's Gate restaurant in Kensington, London. In 1993 he became a junior pastry chef at Chewton Glen, then two years later joined Hotel Du Vin in Winchester as head chef, age 21. "I was about to achieve one of my biggest ambitions eight years early, I was about to become head chef," he said.

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The chef in action

Which restaurants does James Martin own?

The chef opened James Martin Manchester inside the Manchester235 casino in 2013 – it made The Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants list for 2015/2016. James opened The Kitchen Cookery School and restaurant at Chewton Glen in 2017 and he also has the James Martin Kitchen chain at Stansted Airport, Lakeside, Manchester Piccadilly train station and Glasgow airport.

Has James Martin had any hurdles to overcome?

James has dyslexia, which is a common learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling. The chef recently told the guests on his TV show: "I mainly failed it [cookery] because I’m severely dyslexic."

He persevered and built a successful career but still has difficulties presenting sometimes because he has trouble following the autocue. "A lot of this crew think I’m ignoring them," he laughed, adding, "I am most of the time but it’s mainly because I have trouble reading a script."

What was James Martin's first cookbook?

James published his first cookbook, Eating in with James Martin, in 1998.

How many cookbooks has James Martin written?

He has since written 20 best-selling cookbooks and his autobiography, Driven. Some of his books include Fast Cooking: Really Exciting Recipes in 20 Minutes, James Martin’s American Adventure and James Martin’s Great British Adventure.

What are James Martin's hobbies?

The chef has said he likes to spend his hard-earned cash on his hobbies and interests, namely his car collection which includes a Chevrolet Courvette, a Lotus 340R, a 1948 Maserati and two retired Formula One motors.

"My mates come round to my house and they look into my garage and I go, 'These are my babies, these are my things,' but you know, it's each to their own, isn't it?'" he said. James also holds a pilot's licence and is learning to fly helicopters.

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James has a passion for motorbikes and cars

Does James Martin have any pets?

Yes, James has two dogs. He told the Daily Star: "I have two dogs – a working cocker spaniel called Cooper, and a little Lhasa Apso called Ralph that I bought p***ed from the pet store at Harrods one lunchtime!"

He explained: "It was a boozy working lunch, the day before Saturday Kitchen, and I had been celebrating. I ended up on the top floor of Harrods thinking I was going to buy a new pair of shoes, but I ended up in the wrong department and saw these two little dogs. One of them was really looking at me and I thought, ‘He’s pretty cool’, so I bought him."

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James' dogs Cooper and Ralph

Did James Martin once chat to the Queen about corgis?

Yes, this is true! The chef was invited to a private reception at Buckingham Palace, where the conversation soon turned to the monarch's adorable pet pooches.

James recently told HELLO!: "Apparently once a month they do it. They pick random people, some in the public eye, some not. There was only eight of us for lunch; it was magical. I have total respect for the Queen and the royal family. Would you want to do it? No, would you hell. I wouldn't want to do that in a month of Sundays. The only thing I regret is that my grandmother wasn't alive to witness it because she was a huge fan.

"I thought I was going over there for one of those garden parties or 300 people in a room but when I got there the corgis walked in and in came her Majesty, and sat opposite me. It's one of those pinch-yourself moments you'll never forget for the rest of your life."

"We chatted about dogs, about life. She's very polite, it was great. You don't remember what you said because you were so nervous – you can't believe you're having a one on one conversation with the Queen for 45 minutes."

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