years ago I had a secure job, a modern house on a safe
street in a nice provincial English town and my eight
year old daughter went to a progressive school. I lived
the quintessential cosy suburban life. So comfortable
was this life that I actually couldn't wait to get out
because, for me, it wasn't really a life at all: it
was dull existence.
Fisher was a self-taught chef before reaching the semi-final
of BBC Masterchef . . .
Whom do you most admire for their achievements?
Rick Stein, because he's a self-taught chef having started
his restaurant business in that culinary vacuum called
the "seventies" cooking fish which, to this
day, is still the least popular food in the UK. He's
also brought his own charming, gently intelligent slant
on cookery to a nation not known for its cooking prowess.
Who is your favourite chef?
See above (and also Jamie Oliver, because he's made
cooking real food so accessible to a generation of kids
in imminent mortal danger of becoming junk food morons).
With whom would you most like to have dinner?
What would be your desert island disk?
Saens Sans (French composer): exquisite, dramatic, emotionally-charged
turn of the century classical.
What is your favourite British food?
Toad in the Hole with Mashed Potato and Onion Gravy
(or a fried egg and bacon sandwich made with processed
sliced white bread!).
What is your favourite Italian food?
What is your favourite World food?
What do you like most about your job?
At the risk of sounding trite it's the fact that it
doesn't seem like a job: I'm in the enviable position
of doing for a living what I would do as my prime hobby.
How long have you lived and / or worked in France?
Six years. Came here with a one way ticket on the hovercraft
and have only been back twice (and didn't like it -
apart from the pubs, of course!).
How would you describe France to someone who's never
. . . a hard one that as it's a country of contrast
and paradox: the scenery's beautiful, the roads empty,
the people laid back. You can get a five course meal
for a tenner, but a second hand car costs way over the
odds. It has a relaxing pace, but can be a tad too soporific
when you want to get things done: the French are easy-going
on the surface, but real sticklers for rules. A country
of surprises, but one that resists change.
What are, to you, France's main attractions?
value food, very little crime, and few traffic jams.
What's the best thing about France?
cheap, but desirable, properties to buy (still). Great
value eating-out. The weather.
And the worst?
The bureucracy. Dogs. Peeing in public.
When did you first move to France and has it changed
since you first arrived?
13th 2000. No - which is one of the reasons we like
At what sort of place do you regularly go to eat?
For lunch you can't beat the Relais Routier (transport
cafes) where customers - burly tattoo-festooned lorry
drivers, and busy tradesmen - eat regularly.
dinner: family run Ferme Auberges where, in order to
be called a Ferme Auberges, they are legally obliged
to serve dishes who's ingredients are 90% produced or
grown on the premises.
Do you miss living in the UK?
Sometimes, but I don't miss the anti-social behaviour
and the congestion.
What do you miss most about not living in the UK?
Ease of communication. The sense of humour. Pubs. Curry.
What's your favourite local dish?
Main course: Confit d'Canard (salted duck legs slow-cooked
in their own fat). Dessert: Crème Brûlée.
When did you first get involved in cooking holidays?
When we moved to France in 2000. We intended from the
outset to run cooking holidays, and it's paid off.
What sort of people have you looked after on cooking
get the whole gamut of the food-loving world: veggies,
carnivores, people with food allergies such as coeliac
and shellfish-intolerant, novices, budding chefs, singles,
couples. People from as far afield as Iceland to Australia,
from Dubai to Hong Kong.
From time to time there must be a guest on a cooking
holiday who thinks they know more than you. How do you
you try to 'handle' them you won't win because you just
come across as appearing bossy, arrogant or confrontational.
The easiest, and simplest, way is to let the other guests
defend you, which they will readily do: no-body likes
a show-off! In general though, our guests have been
some of the nicest people I've had the pleasure to meet.
Do you think people who don't know how to cook are wasting
their time and yours going on a cooking holiday?
On the contrary, these are the people who gain most
from coming on a cooking holiday because they often
have no pre-conceived, ingrained ideas about food and
cooking and they really want to learn. This means they
are often able to approach food and cooking with a much
more open attitude than 'seasoned' cooks.
find out more about Jim's cooking holidays visit www.cookinfrance.com
Email Hub-UK : firstname.lastname@example.org