TOM KERRIDGE

FROM SLIMMING DOWN TO SNACKING ON PORK SCRATCHINGS, TV CHEF TOM KERRIDGE GIVES US THE SKINNY ON HIS NEW OUTLOOK ON EATING…

Dieting is a divisive subject, not least with the current debate surrounding clean eating, but chef Tom Kerridge is open-minded.

The cheerful TV foodie has lost 11 stone over the course of three years on his self-devised regime, bidding bye-bye to big boozy sessions with his ‘naughty boy chef mates’, exercising daily and skipping certain types of carbohydrates like potatoes and rice, in favour of high-protein food like meat and eggs, as well as plenty of leafy greens.
Now, he’s sharing his recipes with  the world in his latest cookbook, Tom Kerridge’s Dopamine Diet: My Low-Carb, Stay-Happy Way to Lose Weight.

“There are so many different diets and so many things that appeal to so many different people,” he says, in his distinctive Gloucestershire burr. “This diet is high-protein led, and might not suit somebody else.”

“The key to it is finding the one that suits you,” adds the 43-year-old. “That’s really important. Fitness bloggers, people into eating raw food – it’s great because it takes all sorts. The idea of eating loads of raw food; I couldn’t stay on that for three years but there are other people who could, and there are people who couldn’t stay on what I do for three years.”

The fact he was able to stick to his diet – the first he’s ever tried – for so long was partly because it embraces an unlikely snack.

“Pork scratchings contain no carbohydrate – they’re all protein,” he explains with a chuckle. “I’ve lost the best part of 11 stone while eating pork scratchings. That’s got to be the perfect diet, surely!”

At over 6ft, Kerridge, who made his name after winning The Great British Menu in 2011, made a pact with himself to become healthier before reaching his 40th birthday.

But is it harder for men to admit they want to lose weight?

“It’s not hard… There are more blokes like me – 40 years old, fat and bald – there’s plenty of us around, more than there are 40-year-old, six-pack, chiselled-jaw geezers,” he reasons.

“You think it’s hard to say to your peer group, “I’m going on a diet”, but it’s just that first step because, actually, all your best mates become your biggest support system.

“There are more of them that will embrace and understand it, and probably join you on the journey, than you think. If I can do it, anyone can do it. I’m no different to anybody else. I just decided I needed to do something, and that’s the difference.”

Losing weight has changed his life in all sorts of ways, not least because he says he has energy to burn.

And, while he’s a BBC regular, the chef, who contributed to Bake Off ‘s spin-off show, The Great British Bake Off: Creme de la Creme, rules out joining Paul Hollywood on the new series for Channel 4.

“For me, I love working with the BBC,” says Kerridge, who owns the Hand & Flowers pub in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, with his sculptor wife Beth. “I’m very happy working with them. I love what the BBC stand for and I love working for them, so at this point, I wouldn’t.”

Closer to home, he says his new lifestyle has made adjusting to being a father to 16-month-old son Acey easier, and he and Beth have made a pact not to work on Sundays.

“Being a dad helps you keep focused on staying healthy. You’re consciously aware of what you’re eating and what you’re doing, because although I don’t mind coming last in the sports day race, I want to be just last – I don’t want to be miles left behind!” says Kerridge.

“In fact, actually that’s not true – I want to win it!”

Inspired? Here are two tasty meals from Kerridge’s new book to try at home…

PEPPERONI PIZZA OMELETTE
(Serves 2-4)

✪ 250ml passata
✪ 2tbsp tomato puree
✪ 3 garlic cloves, grated
✪ 6 large free-range eggs
✪ 2tsp dried oregano
✪ A drizzle of olive oil
✪ 150g sliced pepperoni
✪ 2 balls of mozzarella (about 125g each), drained
✪ 2tbsp fresh oregano leaves
✪ 30g Parmesan cheese
✪ A small handful of basil leaves
✪ Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the tomato sauce, heat the passata, tomato puree and garlic in a saucepan over a medium heat. Simmer to reduce until the sauce is nice and thick. This will take eight to ten minutes. Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper to taste and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and dried oregano and season with salt and pepper.

Heat a little olive oil in a 24cm non-stick ovenproof frying pan over a medium-high heat. Pour in the egg and stir until it is almost fully cooked, removing the pan from the heat when the omelette is still a little runny and wobbly in the middle.
Gently spread the tomato sauce all over the omelette. Cover with the pepperoni, then tear the mozzarella into pieces and scatter it over.

Sprinkle with the oregano and then place the pan in the oven for eight to 10 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the ‘pizza’ is set.

Remove from the oven and immediately grate the Parmesan over the top. Scatter over the basil and serve at once, directly from the pan.

LAMB SHANK HOT POT
(Serves 4)

✪ Vegetable oil, for cooking
✪ 4 lamb shanks (about 200g each), French trimmed (get your butcher to do this for you)
✪ 6 small onions, halved
✪ 1 garlic bulb (about 8-12 cloves), peeled and sliced
✪ 1 large swede, peeled and diced
✪ 150g crumbled goat’s cheese
✪ 1tbsp cracked black pepper
✪ 2tsp thyme leaves
✪ 500ml lamb stock
✪ 4 large turnips (about 200g each), peeled and thinly sliced
✪ 50g butter, diced
✪ Sea salt

Heat a good splash of oil in a large flameproof casserole dish over a medium-high heat. Season the lamb shanks with a little salt then fry them two at a time until deeply and evenly coloured. Don’t hurry the process – searing the meat properly helps to create that deep, delicious flavour. Drain off the rendered fat. Set the lamb shanks aside.

Turn the heat down a bit and add a splash more oil to the casserole, followed by the onions, garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook gently for about ten -12 minutes until golden and softened. Remove from the heat and return the lamb shanks to the pan, placing them on top of the onions with the bones pointing upwards.

Preheat the oven to 150C/Fan 130C/Gas 2. In a bowl, combine the swede, goat’s cheese, pepper and thyme, then pack it around the lamb shanks. Pour in the stock. Fan the turnip slices in a circle over the swede and around the lamb shanks then dot with the butter.

Put the lid on or, if that’s not possible because the shank bones are poking up too high, cover with foil and seal tightly. Cook in the oven for 1.5 hours, then remove the lid or foil and return to the oven for a further one-and-a-half hours until the lamb is soft, covering with foil if it browns too quickly. The turnips will be crispy
on the top.

Tom Kerridge’s Dopamine Diet: My Low-Carb, Stay-Happy Way To Lose Weight by Tom Kerridge is published in hardback by Bloomsbury. Priced £20. Available now.