Saturday Kitchen's Matt Tebbutt reveals his favourite ever guests and shock secrets from behind the scenes
HE spends his weekends cooking delicious dishes for world famous celebs in front of live TV cameras.
And chef Matt Tebbutt has revealed two of his all-time favourite Saturday Kitchen guests are Gary Barlow and comedian Tom Allen.
Telling The Sun just why the celebrity duo are such good value, he said: “Some of the guests just blow you away. Tom Allen always springs to mind. What a lovely guy he is, just a genuine warm, incredibly funny guy. No airs, no graces, no side to him, very very natural.
“And then there’s people who are comfortable in their own skin, like Gary Barlow. What an incredible guy, just so down to earth, so normal, despite his massive fame and fortune and general charisma and ability really. There’s so many people like that that are just comfortable because of where they’re at in life. That is so engaging, that’s what I love about meeting people.”
Each week Matt gets stuck into his research and regularly finds himself amazed by his guests' stellar achievements.
He explained: “Invariably you could look at a brief on a Friday night and go ‘what am I going to talk to so and so about for an hour and a half?’ and then you look at the information behind them and you go, ‘I get it, this is why they’re famous, this is why they’re on top of their game’.
“It’s not a question of if they’re bad or not, it’s whether A) You’re a similar age and B) Do you have anything in common remotely?”
As with any live telly, there’s the potential for a toe-curling blooper or two along the way, but Saturday Kitchen is a more well-oiled machine than fans may realise.
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While its casual vibe gives the impression Matt and co are improvising as they go, each programme has two run-throughs before it makes it on air – a script reading the day before and a full rehearsal the morning of the live show.
And if anything does go wrong, well Matt just takes it in his stride.
He said: “There’s nothing worse than when you see somebody on TV and they’re desperately trying to cover something up and it just looks slightly eggy, so you think ‘it happens’ and you get on with it and roll with it.”
And the programme’s occasional dip into the archives to show clips from past Beeb cooking shows gives Matt the time he needs to freshen himself up and prepare for the next segment.
“For me it’s a chance to nip out to the loo. It’s a chance to go and grab some water and talk to your guests. From my point of view it’s not panic stations at all.”
Five years ago Matt replaced James Martin as the host of the show and hasn't looked back.
Charismatic Yorkshireman James, 49, was a firm favourite with housewives during his 10 years on the show, and had enough banter to keep husbands entertained too.
Ratings more than doubled to 2.5million when James took over from previous host Anthony Worrall Thomspon in 2006 – and some questioned whether the BBC programme would survive without him.
But Matt, 47, has proven more than up to the challenge, developing his own devoted fan base thanks to his natural ease in front of the camera while cooking, chatting to celebrity guests and serving up their idea of food heaven and food hell.
He said: “I had covered for James for a few years already, so it wasn’t an insurmountable hurdle… but he did have a very dedicated fan base to win over.
“James has always been very encouraging though.”
Two people who don’t tune in to watch Matt on the box though are his teenage children Henry and Jessie.
While they enjoy dining out at fancy restaurants and meeting famous chefs, Matt insists his major TV role doesn’t make him cool in their eyes.
He laughed: “I wouldn’t have said that in any shape or form, they don’t care. They get very excited about some of the guests we have on. They like that sort of element, but they don’t watch.
“They enjoy some of the stories I come home with. We go to lunches and dinners, and nice places and meet the chefs, and we all have a chat. It’s a very sociable industry. If you get on with people, it’s a lovely place to be.
“I think from that point of view they enjoy it. From the whole ‘my dad’s on telly’ thing, not a chance.”
With Christmas round the corner, Matt’s now put his name to good use by partnering with the UK and Ireland Mushrooms Producers to get the nation using homegrown produce.
He’s even shared three delicious dishes as an alternative to the usual Christmas menu – English muffins topped with mushrooms, chestnut Mushroom Wellington and Stilton, mushroom and pear twists.
He said: “If you’re worried about eating meat to save the planet then you don’t want to be looking at nut roast because the nuts travel maybe 11,000 miles to reach your plate.
“I’ve done a mushroom wellington there which is far sexier, quite frankly.”
He continued: “I love to use mushrooms in my cooking and I also wanted to highlight the importance of having a more sustainable Christmas by purchasing local, seasonal ingredients to use in festive dishes.
“There’s loads of things you can do with mushrooms because if you're thinking of switching out meat then they keep their texture, which is the essential part, and they've got a meaty quality.”
Credit: The UK and Ireland Mushrooms Producers has partnered with Matt Tebbutt to encourage the nation to be more sustainable during the Christmas period, inspiring the nation to cook flavourful food that highlights the versatility of mushrooms in recipes. For more information on sustainability and recipe inspiration, head to @mushroom.miles on Instagram.
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