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James Martin on the road again

James Martin’s impressive ability to interview top chefs while simultaneously whipping up delectable dishes on Saturday Kitchen has earnt him serious kudos from within the cooking industry. But after leaving the show that earnt him his fame two years ago, James is back to put on a cookery spectacle with his own unique stamp on it, this time, on the theatre stage.

James Martin On The Road Again is a month-long tour where the man himself will be visiting locations across the UK to showcase nine of his favourite dishes in the short space of one-and-a-half hours, while delivering an anecdote-laden account of what chefing was like in the 1980s, with a nostalgic nod to the music and dishes of the decade.

“It is a serious onstage kitchen,” James explains, as we catch him after a photoshoot to promote the tour. “Most cooking theatre is just a trestle table and camping gas hob, but with the stage set-up and the lighting it turns it into a full show.”

James is no stranger to touring, with a successful cookery tour two years ago. “I know what to expect this time round,” he says. “But with the last tour I still had Saturday Kitchen Live, and I was trying to get back on Friday nights and had to get into work for 5am. This is a bit different this time, I’m on the tour and that’s it.”

The previous tour, ‘Plates, Mates and Automobiles’ included live music from the TV foodie, as well as his usual culinary wizardry that propelled him to TV stardom. So what can we expect for his second tour? “The whole of part two is an homage to the 80s. It’s quite fun in terms of the food and the storylines and what happened to me in the 80s back when I was training as a chef, so it’s not just an onstage cooking demo. It’s great fun and ends with me walking out on stage and playing this track live.”

“I’ve spent on and off nine months learning and training to do just the last five minutes,” James reveals, which is a guitar solo to a Dire Straits classic accompanied by a backing video featuring cameos from top Michelin star chefs.

The musical aspect of the show came about on the past tour when James attempted an Oasis classic onstage: “When I did the last tour they wanted a strong ending and my restaurant in Manchester is opposite a famous music shop. I went over the road and asked about finishing the show playing the piano. The owner asked how long I had to which I said about three months. He said go upstairs and go for the guitar – in other words, no chance – so I went upstairs, bought a guitar, went home and looked for a local guitar instructor. By that time, it was about eight weeks to go. The guitar instructor came to my house, and the next minute him and I were onstage opening night in Glasgow and off we went. That was the perfect ending, and this is bigger and better.”

“I am more nervous about that than any part of it, the cooking bit I know,” says James, who is certainly used to live interviewing and cooking given his 10-year career at Saturday kitchen.

Aside from the music, the main premise of the show is all about James’s love of food. “Most of the stuff I’ll be cooking on stage are my favourite things to cook. I’m doing a massive tomahawk steak from America, lobster mac and cheese, deep fried mozzarella, two desserts - one including gin.”

“We’ve also got the regional chefs involved and we’re giving away two tickets to Michelin star restaurants during the show each night.”

“It’s all from scratch and nothing is prepared and so it’s got to be absolutely timed. We’ve been timing this at my house – putting electric hobs in and timing it to see exactly how long these things take.”

“We put a lot of thought into what goes in.”

James Martin On The Road Again comes to New Wimbledon Theatre on 17 October.