Well known as a TV chef, author, broadcaster and Award-winning restaurant owner, Antony Worrall Thompson also used to supply his restaurant with his own home grown organic veggies. “It got a bit much,” he confesses, “I just grow enough for personal consumption now. I have never done a horticultural course and have learnt as I go along. I find brassicas hard to grow and someone told me to stamp them in when you plant them, they don’t like loose soil. My cauliflowers never look as white as the one’s in the supermarkets but they taste better,” he chuckles. “Commercially veg is grown for weight not flavour. I love runner beans and always pick them when they are young and tender; they are good with almonds or fennel seeds and bacon of course. And I grow lots of herbs. Basil needs a good summer, coriander isn’t easy but thyme sage and rosemary are. Rosemary makes a nice little hedge too.” he adds knowingly.
“We’ve got about 4 acres of garden, there’s a veg patch, woods, a pond with carp, a wildlife area and a formal garden which I get a bit precious about when the dogs run through it. Jay (Antony’s wife) helps out too; she took a long time to get into it but is a good all-rounder and doesn’t worry about chipping her nails. I get the kids helping as much as I can; they’ve just been helping with all the leaves. They don’t like it but they’ve got to earn their keep!”
Antony is also Patron of various animal Charities, “I like animals and the outdoor life; I used to keep chickens and pigs and we had a cat who lived to be 27 years old and was nearly the oldest cat in the World. The record was 29 years. I put his long life down to healthy eating and plenty of fresh air too. I’ve always spent a lot of time outdoors. In fact my main ambition is to get the kids to enjoy being outdoors rather than spending time on their computers. I think the older you get the more enthusiasm and time you get for gardening, I’m looking forward to spending even more time in mine.”
With 30 books under his apron already, Antony has just brought out, ‘Slow Cooking’. “It’s perfect comfort food for this time of year,” he explains, “summer food is harder to do in a slow cooker; casseroles and stew type dishes work best and you can get lots of flavour from adding veg. Remember root veg can often take longer to cook than the meat, so sometimes needs to go in first. It’s perfect food to come into after a day working in the garden.”
You can follow some of Antony’s fabulous recipes at www.awtonline.co.uk.