What’s he famous for: Doherty is Chef Director at famed London restaurant Duck and Waffle, where his signature dishes include foie gras crème brûlée and a spicy ox cheek doughnut. He’s also the author of two cookbooks. Now, he’s joining Mary Berry, host Claudia Winkleman and Eat Well for Less’ Chris Bavin as a judge for BBC1’s new cooking contest, Britain’s Best Home Cook.
What he says: “If I smell a roast chicken, or cabbage being simmered, it transports me back to being ten years old, sitting in the bath after playing football and smelling all the different stages of my Sunday dinner being cooked downstairs.
“Home food is powerful, true, emotive and simple. My parents separated when I was at school, and when I was staying with my dad in east London, he wouldn’t let me out of the house without a bacon sandwich and a hot drink — that’s ingrained in me now! Mealtimes are really important times shared, too — I’ve got a five-month-old baby at home, but once she’s been put to bed, that’s special time together with my wife.
“I cook for work at the restaurant, but I love cooking at home more. When I was growing up, there was nothing exciting about home cooking, but now because of food TV, books and celebrity chefs, people want to have a go at things themselves and realise it doesn’t matter if things aren’t perfect. It’s the same for professionals — during my first job in a restaurant, I was asked to grate some cheese. As I did, it kept disappearing into the food straightaway. It took me a very long time to realise that I was just grating butter — the head chef couldn’t stop laughing.
“It’s great that more and more people are open to cooking for their friends at home instead of eating out. It’s so much more personal — when I’m cooking for people, I like to tap into a bit of their food nostalgia. I’ll find out a favourite meal they had on holiday, or from when they were a child, and try to re-create it. The food I crave is shepherd’s pie — very humble, loads of gravy and cheddar cheese mash. I’m not expected to say that because of what I do as a living, but really for me it all comes down to pie, leeks and carrots!”
Britain’s Best Home Cook airs on Thursdays at 8pm on BBC1