By Ella Walker
You’d think a chef – especially one famed for his decadent fish and chips – would struggle to fuse the dieter in him with his professional predilection for butter and all the good (if unhealthy) things that make food delicious.
But Tom Kerridge, the man behind festival Pub In The Park and 2-Michelin Star restaurant The Hand And Flowers in Marlow, has integrated the two, and quite spectacularly.
“It’s like pushing two magnets together; two positives can push each other away, but if you turn it around, it can work really, really well,” says the 46-year-old. “I have the understanding of how to cook something lower calorie using a chef skill set, which means flavour and taste-wise, it’s amazing.”
His latest cookbook and accompanying BBC 2 series, Lose Weight & Get Fit addresses the phase Kerridge is currently in with his own health, fitness and diet.
Around six years ago, the dad of one made the decision to revolutionise his life – he cut out carbs, quit booze, hit the pool hard, and lost a whopping 12st from his burly, 30st frame. Following that major weight-loss “journey”, he took up lifting weights and bulked up, before realising more recently he’d rather “lose some timber” and maintain a lighter physique.
And so, Lose Weight & Get Fit concentrates on calorie-controlled meals that can support your training, as well as your day-to-day existence.
“I found myself facing the same everyday challenges that pretty much every other middle-aged bloke is,” he says wryly. “You’re constantly trying to fight against what you like eating, what you want to do, trying to fit in family life, work life, and everything else, but at the same point trying to make sure you try and eat well, and get to the gym and get moving.”
Admittedly the words “calorie” and “controlled” don’t sound all that fun, but Kerridge is adamant that getting fit is “easier to do if you’re enjoying what you’re eating” and this collection of 100 recipes reflects that.
“I am very conscious about what I actually put into my body. I try to make the right decisions,” says the former Great British Menu winner.
Malaysian-Style Beef Curry
650g lean stewing beef
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 litre fresh beef stock
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
2 kaffir lime leaves
150ml tinned coconut milk
1tbsp tamarind paste
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the spice paste
8 shallots, quartered
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 dried chillies, stalks removed
2 long red chillies, deseeded
2.5cm piece fresh ginger, diced
2.5cm piece fresh galangal, diced
2 lemongrass stems, coarse layers removed, chopped
1tsp ground turmeric
To finish and serve
500g cooked brown rice (freshly cooked and drained)
A handful of coriander leaves
1 long red chilli, finely sliced
First, prepare the spice paste: put all the ingredients into a food processor along with 1 tsp salt and blend until smooth, adding a splash of water if needed.
Cut the beef into 2.5cm cubes. Place a large non-stick saucepan over a high heat and add the oil. When hot, add the spice paste and cook, stirring, for one minute or until fragrant.
Add the beef and cook, stirring regularly, for five minutes until starting to brown. Add the stock, cinnamon, star anise and lime leaves. Bring to a low simmer, cover and cook gently for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and cook for a further 20 minutes or until the sauce is thickened and the beef is tender.
Increase the heat, stir in the coconut milk and tamarind paste and cook for a further five minutes. Meanwhile, cook the rice. Season the curry with salt and pepper to taste and discard the cinnamon stick and star anise.
Divide the rice and curry between warmed bowls and top with coriander leaves and chilli slices to serve.
Lose Weight & Get Fit by Tom Kerridge is available now