Muddy meets Tom Kerridge…
... and talks Marlow's Pub in the Park (Kaiser Chiefs, people), his favourite local eateries, and work life balance issues - yup, he has them too!
Stuffing my face and listening to music, preferably at the same time, are two of my favourite leisure activities so no one is more excited than me that tickets for Marlow marvel Tom Kerridge’s Michelin-starred chefs meets music festival series, Pub In The Park, go on sale later this week. I managed to grill (geddit?) the celeb chef about this and much more last week when we met at his new gaff at The Corinthia Hotel in London. Very swish it was too – check it out!
Where did the idea for Pub In The Park come from?
My friend Chris Hughes is an event organiser and we know each other because we’re both Marlow residents. We said, Why don’t we do something here because Higginson Park is beautiful and Marlow is very supportive of community events. And now we take it to different parts of the country that have a similar feel – last year we did four, this year we’re doing eight.
The chefs line-ups are still under wraps but you’ve got the Kaiser Chiefs headlining in Marlow – that’s a good booking.
Yeah, it’s amazing. They’re one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen – the energy! We’ve also got Jake Bugg, Scouting For Girls, All Saints, Gabrielle and David Gray. I have some say in the music – the ideas are presented to me and I’ll say, this will be great. Although some of them are a straight no…
Who have you said no to?
I can’t tell you that!
Boring! The event is suitable for kids, isn’t it?
Yes, Saturday and Sunday lunchtimes are particularly family-friendly and there’s a children’s area, a cinema and games. The best way of describing the day is that it’s like taking your kids to a beer garden for the afternoon. My Little Man comes along for the day but he disappears at 8.30/9 because he’s had a massive day.
He’s tiny though, isn’t he?
Yes, he’s three and he’s had enough by then. It gets to the point where he just starts crying for no reason.
We’re very into work/life balance at Muddy – how do you juggle everything?
I’m wracked with parental guilt the same as everybody else. You work really hard to provide for your kids – I come from an estate in Gloucester with nothing, so I want to provide for Little Man so he’s never got to worry. But then I think, But he’s got to learn the value of it all, he’s got to learn a work ethic! It’s a dilemma. I would love to spend more time with him, and that’s surely the same conversation that every parent has in his or her head but it’s just the reality that my industry it involves working evenings and weekends. I can go three days without seeing him because I will come home after he has gone to bed then I leave at 5.30am. I see him, he doesn’t see me. I shine my phone torch on him to see if he’s breathing and say hello.
Does your wife pick up the slack?
She’s a super-busy, superstar super-mum. But Beth [Cullen Kerridge] has her own career, she’s an international artist – her last piece of work was at the front of the Dubai Opera House. She has her studio at the house so she can work at home and pick our son up from nursery.
What about weekends?
If I can get them off, brilliant, but that doesn’t always happen. But we always try to do Sundays together – Sunday is family day. And if I am working, say, appearing on [Channel 4 live cookery show] Sunday Brunch, he’ll come into London with me and we’ll go for lunch and make it a day out in town.
You employ a lot of people from the local area – do you bump into them in Marlow?
Yes, there’s about 140 and I see them all the time. But that’s fine – I think the reason we’ve been successful is that we want to work with people we like. We try to employ nice people so it’s lovely if you bump into them. But we tend to move in different circles. I’m a 45-year-old dad, they’re 28 and down the pub!
We’ve got some fantastic chefs locally – where do you eat out?
We are very lucky around here. You’ve got The Nut Tree in Murcott that’s lovely. If you’re looking top-end fine dining then there’s nothing better than Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, that’s world class. Then you’ve also got simple pubs in great places – like The Beehive near Maidenhead where Dominic Chapman cooks.
Jamie Oliver recently said that sometimes he wished he was just running his dad’s pub in Essex. Do you ever have that feeling?
Yes, all the time. The best place to be is chef de partie, a chef that runs a section who’s normally around 25 years old. I would love to be that guy again! That said, if I was that guy, my businesses wouldn’t be here. I like to romanticise it but the reality is you can’t do that – as you grow as a person, your responsibilities grow. I don’t want to move backwards, I just keep going.