The original series of Food and Drink ran from 1982—2002. Were you a devotee?
When I was in Britain I used to watch it. Even for a working chef it was interesting because it was topical and cutting-edge at the time. I think it helped to make British people think about food in a different way: as more than fuel.
But there’s no shortage of cookery on TV these days. Why bring it back?
This is neither straight cookery programme, nor a competition like MasterChef. Every week has a theme — food shortage, street food, this crazy baking phenomenon — and we cook according to that. It’s a topical programme filmed in a personal way: I invite guests into my kitchen and we cook a nice meal together and chat about an issue, which makes it very convivial, I think.
Will you be debating the recent horsemeat-burger scandal?
It’s a shame that the horsemeat issue didn’t raise its head when we were filming because it’s the kind of issue we would most definitely tackle. I have tried horsemeat and to be honest I’m not a fan; I don’t particularly like the taste, but the fact that it was just labelled as “meat” is dreadful. Some of the samples contained pork as well, which many people do not eat for religious reasons. Whether or not you choose to eat horsemeat is your choice, but you should be able to make that choice.
Mary Berry is your guest in the baking episode. What was it like making madeleines for the grande dame of sponge?
She is a true lady. It was an absolute pleasure and a great honour to have her on the show, although she told me off a couple of times!
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Why should you feel guilty about pleasure? But I suppose mine would be the big bar of expensive Italian chocolate I like to have to hand in the kitchen. I eat it every day unless my head chef gets there before me.
Food and Drink starts tonight at 8:30pm on BBC2