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Paul Merrett's Christmas memories and recipes

The Saturday Kitchen chef shares his seasonal secrets

Posted: 22 November 2012
by Fiona McKim

Paul Merrett is chef-patron at The Victoria and father of Ellie, 15, and Richie, 13

What is your earliest food memory? Sunday roasts at my grandparents’ house. My granny was a really great cook.

What foods did you like as a child? I was never a fussy eater. My mother cooked a lot of spicy food, which I loved.

What are you best memories of Christmas as a child? Getting a portable record player when I was about 12.

What was your typical Christmas dinner back then? We always had a big traditional family Christmas lunch with grandparents, aunties and uncles. I ate everything on my plate as I recall. I was always slightly disappointed when a roast potato actually turned out to be a roast parsnip. My favourite bit of the whole lunch was, and still is, the bread sauce.

When was the first time you cooked a Christmas dinner? I don’t think I actually cooked a full-on Christmas dinner until I had children – and then I cooked all the traditional fare.

Who is your greatest foodie inspiration? My mother is my greatest food inspiration. She has always been such an adventurous traveller and cook.

What’s your worst cooking disaster? Too many to mention!

What would be your perfect family Christmas dinner? One eaten at my restaurant The Victoria, when I’m not the one who’s cooking. Every year, I think maybe this year we will close for the day…

What’s your food guilty pleasure? I have plenty. Having a Cheddar cheese and strawberry jam sandwich after service in the evening is one of them.

What would be your perfect Christmas present? Having two weeks’ holiday somewhere warm and sunny!

What inspired you to support Action Against Hunger? I actually grew up in East Africa and I think I’ve grown up understanding that food is not just a pleasure for those who can afford it. It’s an essential part of life and we need to work hard to make sure no one is truly hungry.

What will be your New Year’s resolution? Give up smoking, and this year I mean it.

What is your favourite seasonal recipe? Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Oyster Mushrooms and Truffle Oil.

Get Paul Merrett's recipe for Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Oyster Mushrooms and Truffle Oil

Learn more about Action Against Hunger

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