There have been lots of exciting things happening this year but one of the most, so far, is meeting chef Tom Kerridge. Yesterday, I travelled down to Marlow with photographer Greg Funnell to meet probably the nicest man in food. He’s been spotted quite a bit in Whitstable recently so one of the questions on my own agenda was to find out a bit more about his jaunts down to the Kent coast. The Hand and Flowers itself is really just a normal pub..there’s not one fancy-pants part to it at all. In fact, it’s quite small with not many tables, easy to see why booking is a year in advance. The man himself met us at 9am prompt, dressed in his white t-shirt and apron and was polite and businesslike. He made sure we had everything we needed and dished out bacon sandwiches for those of who were hungry before settling down to what seemed like an entertaining chat with the interviewer. Keen to get the shoot going after almost an hour of chit-chat, I joined the interviewer to try and hurry him along, but caught Tom mid-sentence, explaining why he just doesn’t like a massage (he goes with his wife when they’re away on one of those couples massages but still finds it funny…as for those silly little knicker things they make you put on…don’t get him started!) and I was sucked into the interesting life of Tom! As The Hand and Flowers has rooms, it also has a little treatment room, so upon being questioned on what he does to relax, it was quick to see that a massage is the last thing on his chilling out agenda, preferring to spend an hour after work watching mindless TV such as The Island with Bear Grylls. Interestingly, as a lover of pigs, he did find the killing of the pigs on the Island a little unnecessary, after all, it is only a TV programme and it’s not like they were in real-life situation. I have to say, the same thing did cross my mind. Anyway…back to the photoshoot!
Taking our photographic cue from the interview, the brief was to do something fun with Tom relating to his favourite things or daily rituals. Sadly, there were no pigs heads in the kitchen (the chef had already prepared it that morning) so we couldn’t have Tom with one of those, but he does love a sausage, so taking a cue from a well-known image of a butcher with sausages as fingers, we did something similar. Tom was game-for-a-laugh and promptly made the sausages into his fingers before doing a ‘Usain Bolt’ and grabbing a string of them, pointing them in the air in a victory fashion.
Next we moved outside where we posed Tom on some empty beer barrels as the delivery men were changing them over. He called the delivery guy ‘chief’ affectionally, as he’s known for doing in his programmes, proceeding to lift the barrels strong-man style as I told him one of my old school friends, Terry Hollands, is a strong man to which he was really impressed.
Next shoot space was the the little garden in the car park, as Tom likes to grow his own as much as possible, but doesn’t get the time. Joking along with his gardener, he posed with a rake and spade as Greg tried to shield him from the now glaring sun so he wouldn’t squint. I asked Tom about his recent sighting in Whitstable to which he said it’s his little getaway. That’s all I can say I’m afraid guys! For I would hate to spoil the privacy of this man who is in such demand, whose only respite is time away with his wife and dogs (3 of them, one of them includes a nutty boxer). But his favourite places to eat are English’s, Jojo’s and Brown’s Deli. Hopefully he’ll get along to The Oyster Chop House in Herne Bay after a recommendation from me I managed to sneak in.
After posing for a final shot outside The Hand in Flowers (surprisingly there were no ‘beeps’ from cars passing by) and me jumping in for a picture with him…me: “Tom, can I jump in for a picture with you please?” Tom: “Yeah course…come ‘ere girl” was his reply, we finished up with him being accosted by a group of people walking past and I was ‘forced’ to take a picture of them with Tom. Tom just doesn’t get why people want to have their picture taken with him and finds the whole fame thing a little weird, bless him. He was even recognised by a prostitute at 4am in Las Vegas (he was on a stag do, being teetotal, he was on his way back to the hotel and got accosted….there was nothing sinister at all going on!)
I left the Hand in Flowers feeling joyful and elated at meeting someone I’ve admired on TV, desperate for him to be as nice as he comes across. He really is that nice, jolly ‘lad’. So accommodating, generous with his time, not at all diva like but just a regular normal great guy. He hopes we’ll see each other in Whitstable soon and as I know where he lives, I expect he might. But there’s no way I’m sharing it with you guys!