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Dick Strawbridge's son James on family rivalry, new cooking show and advice for his dad

The chef has an exciting new show

james strawbridge
Rachel Avery
Homes Editor
November 3, 2022
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Fans of Escape to the Chateau were delighted when Dick Strawbridge's eldest son James Strawbridge, 38, appeared on the show – and now he's got his very own slot on TV!

MORE: Escape to the Chateau fans react to Dick and Angel leaving French home

The chef is fronting Strawbridge Over The Drawbridge, a BBC programme where he visits stately homes to cook up a storm for the Lords and Ladies of each manor.

WATCH: Dick and James Strawbridge bicker behind the scenes when filming 

James sat down with HELLO! to chat rivalry with his famous father, his private home life with his wife and children, and what it's really like behind the scenes at these vast country residences.

You and your dad get told you look alike, do you have similar personalities?

I've got a better-groomed moustache and beard I'd like to say for the record. But yes, more and more as I get older. People find it quite amusing when they say 'Oh you look like your dad,' but I'd say that it's fairly normal. I'm getting those wrinkles, those laughter lines, where I tend to be in a pretty good mood. In terms of the way I cook, I always used to rebel against him and say that I'm going to do more fine dining techniques and then he'd just do a real rustic slow-cooked family one pot meal and people would always gravitate towards that, so I wouldn't tell him this, but I have learned some of his cooking tricks now and they do work. It's all about values as well isn't it. Being happy with family, good food and simple things is enough, especially when there's so much stress going on.

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James gets told he looks like his father a lot

What’s your dad like as a grandfather?

He's good. Very much like some people are with puppies, he winds them up then gives them back. When he sees the children, he loves playing with them, the rough and tumble. Quite a lot of high energy play but equally we should do a competition who will fall asleep first my dad or the children. He's a good classic grandpa. He's got his workshop, inventor's bonkers place where they can see what he's up to. They've got another grandpa in Cornwall, my mum's husband, so they've got these two characters in their lives which is always nice. grandpa are very special. It's always great having the older generation around young children.   

james strawbridge garden produce

James Strawbridge chats with Anna Hudson, Head Gardener at Ballywalter House during filming for his new series

Congratulations on your own show, Strawbridge Over The Drawbridge, great name for the series! How was filming?

I can't take credit, but I really like it, it's quite memorable and a bit of fun. It was great, it was a real taste of luxury to stay in those houses, cooking in wonderful kitchens and meeting Lords and Ladies. I was over in Northern Ireland which is where my granny and my aunties live so I was able to stay with family in between episodes and get fed lots of great Irish food. It was certainly eye opening seeing how much of a headache it is looking after these enormous properties – it's not an easy job or lifestyle but I love what they are doing, preserving the history. They all seem to be pretty jolly as well, they all dealt with the stress and pressure really well.

Any not-so-great reactions?

Everyone was really lovely and welcoming, and I loved the challenge of remembering to say Lord or Lady, trying to be polite as you don't want to embarrass yourself and say the wrong thing. They were quick to say, 'Just call me by my first name'. Obviously, I'm cooking for people who have some of the best taste and restaurant experience out there as they love good food, so the pressure there was quite significant. I was putting it on myself really, I just wanted to say thanks to them being good hosts. Also, to fly the flag for the Strawbridge name, and make sure I didn't let the side down. There was a bit of pressure on that as well, as I compete a lot of the time with my dad when cooking. I think it was really interesting to see that, over food, wherever you come from, if you are a Lord or Lady or normal person, we all enjoy good food.

james strawbridge veg

James uses as much fresh produce as possible

Will there be another series?

I'm keen to do another series, there's certainly more places in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. There might be a series two!

You spent a prolonged period at the Chateau recently, how was that? Was it hard to leave?

When I go visit the Chateau [Chateau de la Motte-Husson], it's always quite difficult going back to my end of terrace ex-council house with a normal kitchen but every Englishman's home is a castle. I love my house and I love my family, so I never feel too sad leaving my dad's chaos. Having the channel in the way is a bit of an obstacle for catching up often, but we're always chatting.

Would you ever relocate to France?

No, I'm really settled in Cornwall, and I'm a massive fan of where we live. I love the UK, and I love visiting France.

dick angel strawbridge

James' dad Dick and his wife Angel own the famous Château de la Motte-Husson

We love the fact ordinary people can get married at the Chateau, how's the business going post covid?

The business is going well, and whenever I speak to them, they are busy. It's a good thing and a bad thing, my grannie always says, 'Make time to smell the roses,' it's all well and good having a successful business and being very busy but I always wish both my dad and Angela get more time to relax in the future as well.

RELATED: Can you get married at Escape to the Chateau's Dick and Angel Strawbridge's home? Costs, details and more 

It's the end of an era for Escape to the Chateau, how's everyone feeling?

For me it's my family, so whatever they want to do and makes them happy, I'm supportive of. People do really love the show, it's quite positive viewing. If you're brave enough to go on TV and share your family life with the public, then you're relaxed about that decision. With me, personally, I love sharing my projects and my professional stuff but I don't share my family life. That's just a decision. It will be fascinating to see what they do next, and there's no worries that they will continue to be busy and create stuff as they love keeping busy and having fun.

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James lives in Cornwall with his family 

How are you handling the fame side of things?

I'm never in the spotlight, I'm in Cornwall. I choose to try and share as much as I can, doing little reels on Instagram and stuff. Sometimes I might have a nice message come through, or somebody commenting on my post but for me television is another way of telling a story, and now the stories of people who live in these wonderful houses. In terms of sharing very personal stuff, life is too busy to be getting to the point where you're sharing too much. I get a lot of private time, I've got the dogs and I go on walks.

Do your kids watch you on TV?

My wife has seen all three episodes, and my children may have seen two and a half between them in different configurations. They spoke to me while I was over there, and with my dad doing TV, it doesn't really faze them, but they did find it quite interesting and like the size of the houses.

James' show Strawbridge Over The Drawbridge is a BBC series, and available on iPlayer. Feeling inspired? His recipes are available on the BBC Good Food website

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