James Martin: 'I'd love to be a racing driver…but my arse is too big'

She saw me work hard when I was a young kid in kitchens and she passed away just before I started on TV. She gave me the best advice ever: ‘Respect your elders and look after your parents.’ I’d love to talk to her again – and find out how she got her bacon sandwiches so damn good!

My tipple of choice would be a gin and tonic. I like ale, but when you’re working in a restaurant you don’t want anything too heavy, so I usually have a glass of white burgundy and a nice G&T.

My ideal weekend would be spent mowing the grass! I’m obsessed with my garden. I’ll do it in the morning and then go back over it in the evening. My grandad used to be a cricket groundsman, so that may explain it. I have a vegetable garden that I love and I learnt that from my grandparents, who had an allotment – that’s my oasis.

If I wasn’t a chef, I’d love to have been a racing driver. Unfortunately, my arse is too big and I’m too tall. I go to a fair few Grand Prix races, though, and I drive some touring cars.

I don’t read, because I’m dyslexic. I’ve just got glasses for the first time because my eyesight is deteriorating – even my iPad’s got bigger! Dyslexia hasn’t hindered me when it comes to recipes, though, as they’re a learning process. And I use a dictaphone to write cook books.

I’ve been training my dog, Cooper. He’s a young cocker spaniel, a working dog, so I spend about an hour training him when I can – although I think he’s at the stage where he’s training me! I’m enjoying seeing his development. He can retrieve pheasants and partridges on a field.

The apps I use most on my phone are ones for flying and the weather. I’ve been a pilot for 10 years so I find them the most useful. That way I can see where I’m going and where I’ve already been. I really enjoy flying – I find it very relaxing as the phone’s switched off and nobody can contact you.

I’ve just come back from the Orkney Islands, it’s incredible. It’s desolate, isolated, there are hardly any trees and the people are fantastic. Scotland is a very special place. I went there with a couple of chefs on a foodie tour, not with cameras. I met a guy who makes the best vinegar I’ve ever tasted in my life in his garage.

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