Ainsley Harriott’s latest adventure has taken him across southern Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East for his book, Ainsley’s Mediterranean Cookbook – full of classic recipes and some twists, but in true Harriott style, all approachable and achievable.

But we caught up with him to quiz him on the really important stuff…

Your death row meal would be…

“Probably my mum’s red bean stew and dumplings. It was so rich that when I was hungry, I’d be farting like a trooper.”

You still can’t make…

“I’m not fantastic with pastry – my hands are too big. Aldo my old pastry chef was fantastic, and tiny little hands he had because great pastry chefs, they’ve got very small hands. Why? Because we’ve got too much blood, it’s too warm to make pastry or to do fondant icing and stuff like that. You need very delicate fingers and mine are too big.”

Ainsley Harriott
(Dan Jones/PA)

Your favourite store cupboard essential is… 

“A good olive oil is just great and I’m quite into chilli flakes at the moment, because my daughter comes over for brunch most weekends when we go to the football [he’s a longtime Arsenal supporter] and her favourite thing in the world at the moment, which I do with a hint of garlic and a squeeze of lemon and some chilli flakes on, is toast with poached eggs.”

Your late night snack of choice is… 

“It depends what I’ve got in the fridge but I do like a bit of bread and cheese late at night, and I’ll tell you a secret, at the moment I’m into the old Manchego with a bit of brown toasted sourdough and I like a little spread of honey on it. You know late night you need a bit of sweetness, especially when my girlfriend’s down – if it’s just all cheese I won’t get a snog, but if it’s honey!”

You like your eggs…

“Poached. A soft poached egg, because the kids are going through that brunchy moment. For me, if you’re going to fry an egg you need to fry it properly, there needs to be foaming butter going on there.”

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How are you doing? What do you think – should I keep the goatee 🤔🤷🏾‍♂️ xx

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Last night you ate… 

“I had some tuna, I went to pilates yesterday and where I live in south London is a fish stall and Barry [on the stall] gave me this fantastic bit of tuna. Waitrose do this fantastic chickpea with quinoa and lentils at the moment, a little pack, I grate a bit of lemon zest into it and a bit of pepper and you heat it up in the microwave – because it was a rush and I was watching football. I peppered the tuna – literally two minutes, turn it over, switch off the heat, residual heat is enough – and I had that just sat on the top. And it was lovely because I felt very light afterwards.”

The best hangover cure is… 

“A Bloody Mary!”

Your takeaway of choice is…

“Holy Cow, it’s an Indian restaurant. But on a Wednesday night when my son comes over after five-a-side football, it’s a gourmet burger with a butterscotch or banana milkshake.”

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Good morning from Corsica! x

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You can’t stomach…

“Funnily enough cucumber is 97% water but whatever enzyme is in there, it gives me the worst headache in the world, so I can’t really stomach that.

“But the thing I really can’t stomach is food waste. Don’t overfill my plate – let’s get back to putting food on the table and letting people help themselves because there’s no excuse. I was at a do at the Savoy [hotel] for a charity, and the amount of people who left stuff on their plates… I hate that waste – and you can imagine that going in the incinerator, that’s not going to feed anybody.

“[At home] a lot of the time it’s just me and the dog Bobby [his partner lives in Chester] so if there’s any waste, there’s always Bobby! There’s very little waste. There might be a spoonful of mash but if there’s two spoonfuls of mash it normally goes in the fridge and I’ll make a potato cake with a fried egg on top of it.

“One of the biggest problems we have in this world is food waste.”

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Bobby’s choosing what we’re having for dinner 😁👍🏾 ⠀⠀ #ainsleysmediterraneancookbook #bobbydog

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Ainsley’s Mediterranean Cookbook by Ainsley Harriott, photography by Dan Jones, is published by Ebury Press.

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