Name: Chris Bavin
What's he famous for: A former market trader and fresh produce importer, when it comes to food, Bavin knows his apples from oranges. On the small screen, he's co-presented Eat Well For Less?, Tomorrow's Food, Food: Truth or Scare and The Truth about Meat. Now, he's joining Mary Berry, host Claudia Winkleman and Dan Doherty as a judge for BBC1's new cooking contest, Britain's Best Home Cook.
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What he says: "We love with food, we reward with food, we celebrate with food, we console with food — it’s such an integral part of everybody’s day-to-day life, but nobody falls in love with it from visiting a restaurant. It’s food cooked at home that has real romance and nostalgia — what your parents and grandparents made for you growing up. It’s hard to separate memories from food.
"When I was young, we probably had a repertoire of 12 meals that we ate again and again. I love to think of sitting round the table on a Sunday afternoon with my mum, dad, grandparents and sisters. We’d have some Mediterranean influenced things like lasagne, but it was mostly what you’d think of as traditional British food — casseroles, roast dinners, stews, pies. That’s still my comfort food — warming, hearty, meat and gravy, a really rich steak and onion pie, creamy mashed potato. I’d bathe in it if I could!
"I remember so fondly being in the kitchen helping my mum to make the pastry when she was baking, or giving things a stir. In Britain now, we’re more interested in food than we’ve ever been — and we know more about it. There’s a real appetite for knowing where your food comes from, and yet I think people are cooking less and less, whether that’s because of time, low confidence, or just because there are easy alternatives like takeaways that weren’t there before. When people do cook at home, though, they’re experimenting and trying new things. It’s more personal if you bring people to your home and cook for them.
"When I have people round, I love laying on a feast. I like communal eating, so Middle Eastern or Mexican food is great. Food is special: there’s something symbolic about sitting round a table together, talking. It’s like time stands still. There are no phones at my dinner table, and we try to eat together as a family every day — although with young children, that means dinner at five o’clock, so I’m ready to eat again by eight!"
Britain's Best Home Cook airs on Thursdays at 8pm on BBC1