Muddy meets Tom Kerridge…
... and talks Pub in the Park, which kicks off over the border in Herts in Sept, and work life balance issues - yup, he has them too!
Stuffing my face and listening to music, preferably at the same time, are two of my favourite leisure activities so no one is more excited than me that tickets for Tom Kerridge’s Michelin-starred chefs meets music festival series, Pub In The Park, are now on sale. I managed to grill (geddit?) the celeb chef about this and much more last week when we met at his new gaff at The Corinthia Hotel in London. Very swish it was too – check it out!
Pub In The Park began in Marlow, Bucks, back in 2017 and this year has expanded to cover seven more locations including Leeds, Bath and Warwick. The nearest to us is Verulamium Park, St Albans (I’ll travel anywhere for good food) which kicks off on Fri 13 – Sun 15 Sept. Headliners for Herts include Tom Odell, Razorlight, Scouting for Girls and Toploader whilst top chefs announced are Jodie Kidd (The Half Moon, West Sussex) and Matt Tebbut (BBC’s Saturday Kitchen). Full line up here.
Where did the idea for Pub In The Park come from?
My friend Chris Hughes is an event organiser and we know each other because we’re both Marlow residents. We said, Why don’t we do something here because Higginson Park is beautiful and Marlow is very supportive of community events. And now we take it to different parts of the country that have a similar feel – last year we did four, this year we’re doing eight.
That’s amazing. I’m loving the headliners this year too. Who have you said no to?
I can’t tell you that!
Boring! The event is suitable for kids, isn’t it?
Yes, Saturday and Sunday lunchtimes are particularly family-friendly and there’s a children’s area, a cinema and games. The best way of describing the day is that it’s like taking your kids to a beer garden for the afternoon. My Little Man comes along for the day but he disappears at 8.30/9 because he’s had a massive day.
He’s tiny though, isn’t he?
Yes, he’s three and he’s had enough by then. It gets to the point where he just starts crying for no reason.
We’re very into work/life balance at Muddy – how do you juggle everything?
I’m wracked with parental guilt the same as everybody else. You work really hard to provide for your kids – I come from an estate in Gloucester with nothing, so I want to provide for Little Man so he’s never got to worry. But then I think, But he’s got to learn the value of it all, he’s got to learn a work ethic! It’s a dilemma. I would love to spend more time with him, and that’s surely the same conversation that every parent has in his or her head but it’s just the reality that my industry it involves working evenings and weekends. I can go three days without seeing him because I will come home after he has gone to bed then I leave at 5.30am. I see him, he doesn’t see me. I shine my phone torch on him to see if he’s breathing and say hello.
Does your wife pick up the slack?
She’s a super-busy, superstar super-mum. But Beth [Cullen Kerridge] has her own career, she’s an international artist – her last piece of work was at the front of the Dubai Opera House. She has her studio at the house so she can work at home and pick our son up from nursery.
What about weekends?
If I can get them off, brilliant, but that doesn’t always happen. But we always try to do Sundays together – Sunday is family day. And if I am working, say, appearing on [Channel 4 live cookery show] Sunday Brunch, he’ll come into London with me and we’ll go for lunch and make it a day out in town.
Jamie Oliver recently said that sometimes he wished he was just running his dad’s pub in Essex. Do you ever have that feeling?
Yes, all the time. The best place to be is chef de partie, a chef that runs a section who’s normally around 25 years old. I would love to be that guy again! That said, if I was that guy, my businesses wouldn’t be here. I like to romanticise it but the reality is you can’t do that – as you grow as a person, your responsibilities grow. I don’t want to move backwards, I just keep going.