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‘I always go for extra-hot spices’: Ed Gamble’s life in food


The comedian, 37, tells Tom Parker Bowles about the fun of fiery food, what he doesn’t want to find in his dessert and the only way to eat celery 

My mum is very much a Delia lady. So we had lots of Delia Smith recipes growing up. The one that was cooked the most was this amazing chicken noodle dish in a curry coconut sauce. My mum sent me off to university with that recipe. I didn’t cook it once.

It was just me and my mum in the house, growing up. We both love our food, to a ridiculous extent. My mum’s a lesser-quantity person, but me and my dad (who I also spent a lot of time with) are proper feasters. We like good food and lots of it.

I was a serious gannet at school. I had packed lunches but would eat them in the morning break. Then I would sneak into the hall and have a full lunch. The cooking wasn’t great, but I remember the ribs, vaguely shaped like the inside of a pig and covered in a really sweet sauce. Although they sound horrible now, I really enjoyed those.

Cooking is such a wonderful way of providing for people. I like being the cook because I can chat to guests but have always got an excuse to dip out and go into the kitchen. I also like clearing up, so everyone can say, ‘Well done’ afterwards.

The comedian, 37, tells Tom Parker Bowles about the fun of fiery food, what he doesn't want to find in his dessert and the only way to eat celery

The comedian, 37, tells Tom Parker Bowles about the fun of fiery food, what he doesn’t want to find in his dessert and the only way to eat celery

When I have time, I enjoy cooking big, comforting things, like a roast dinner. Or I’ll make a massive lasagne, eat quite a lot of it, then portion it up and put it in the freezer. It’s a great feeling when you get back late and think you have no food then remember you’ve got this brilliant lasagne.

As a kid, I used to say I didn’t like celery – I think I panicked and thought I had to have something that I didn’t like. Then I realised you could just dip it in peanut butter and was very much on board.

I also love barbecues. If I’ve got time, regardless of the weather, I’ll fire up the barbecue and cook a big steak or a spatchcock chicken. It speaks to some sort of pathetic masculine primal urge.

It’s always exciting when you get to a TV studio and you’re given a choice of places to order from. If there’s Nando’s, I’ll go for it, as it’s my favourite chain: reliable, tasty, and you can trick yourself into thinking you’re being healthy. I always go for the extra-hot spices, although I’ve a conspiracy theory that it has got less hot.

Chefs have got to stop putting popping candy in desserts. They have been doing it for about 25 years now, and every time a chef does it, someone will go, ‘Oh, this just shows the chef’s got a sense of humour!’ And you’re like, no, it’s a cop-out.

Ed says that his mother was a big fan of Delia Smith recipes while he was growing up, particularly praising a noodle dish of hers

Ed says that his mother was a big fan of Delia Smith recipes while he was growing up, particularly praising a noodle dish of hers

I’m a big chilli person, and love spice. Especially Sichuan food. It blows your mind, because of that numbing Sichuan pepper. You feel you’re having some sort of allergic reaction then realise it’s part of the dish and it’s actually the best feeling ever. I do get to a point that if food is too spicy, my body goes into shock, I start hiccupping and I know I’ve gone too far.

If you looked in my fridge when I’m on tour it would be a fairly depressing sight. My wife doesn’t cook when I’m away, so there’s normally a jar of pickles in there because she loves pickles above anything else. And some cheese, and a bottle of vermouth, which makes me sound like a terrible alcoholic. But I recently found out it has a shelf life. So it’s there for the rare times I want a home martini.

Pasta is my favourite comfort food, but as a type 1 diabetic, I need to pick my moments. It can seriously mess with my glucose levels. Cheese is definitely a comfort food, and cheese on toast is probably the ultimate.

My last dinner would be a big Texan barbecue platter. Proper slow and low, with brisket, pulled pork, burnt ends, ribs and smoked chicken wings. Oh, and maybe barbecue from around the world: Korean, Japanese, Turkish. Just grilled meat, essentially. But in lots of different varieties and styles.

Ed’s new stand-up tour starts next March; for tickets visit edgamble.co.uk. His book Glutton is published by Bantam, £20*



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