Gregg Wallace Interview

March 30, 2012


 charlotte clarke and gregg wallace
After a year and a half of nagging, I finally got an interview with Gregg Wallace at The Ideal Home Show.

I interviewed Gregg the day before the announcement of his divorce and although he wasn’t wearing a wedding ring, seemed happy enough as he ate a plate full of roast potatoes, beef and gravy to cure his hang over following the Ideal Home Show opening party.

In this interview he reveals all about how he met his wife Heidi, his latest career ventures, Masterchef and his passion for dining in local Harvesters. 

Gregg, you are currently running The Gregg Wallace Carvery at The Ideal Home Show; you've described before that your favourite cuisine is Italian; yet a carvery is British, so why did you choose it? 

Well I chose a carvery and as it happens to be British, I wanted to manage people’s expectations by serving something we could deliver in both quality and quantity. We must have fed 1,500 people in 2 days and I've only had 2 complaints.

What were the complaints about? 

It just so happens that one guy ended up with fatty cuts of meat, so we just gave him another dinner. Another lady said her food was cold by the time she got her dinner to her table - but I think that’s because she walked slow.

I’ve heard that you’ve been trying to slim down, yet you eat out 4-5 times a week; do you not find it difficult to order healthy food due to all the hidden calories?

 It is very hard to eat well in restaurants because chefs use butter, so, soo much better, so when you order vegetables you think that you’re eating healthily, but you’re not! – It’s much easier when you cook your own food. I have toned up. I’m nowhere near as big and I make healthy options whenever I can. 

You started your career as a greengrocer and proclaim you love fruit and veg; have you ever contemplated opening up a vegetarian restaurant? 

No.
 

-Why not? 

I’m a very enthusiastic carnivore. I love fruit and veg but I couldn’t live without meat. Coming off a cold rugby pitch during the winter and smelling lamb roasting with rosemary and garlic is heavenly - I’d walk across hot coal for a leg of lamb!
 

You’ve recently opened Greggs Table in Bermondsey which contains a 70’s themed menu; do you not think it’s a bit risky to recreate 70’s food as it comes along with memories of smash and TV dinners?

Well I grew up in the 70’s, and the more I talked to people about old classic dishes, the more I realised people loved them. I was saying to people, what about spam fritters, what about Knickerbocker glory, what about banana splits; and everyone loved ‘em so I thought right, I’m gonna do it!

How often are you at your restaurants?

I’m at Greggs Table 3 times a week and about once a week at Wallace & Co as its 2 years and well established; I have a flat near there so I’ll pop in now and then for a glass of red and a pasty.

You’ve tweeted that you eat out at the Harvester regularly and received a fair few comments knocking you for this; why do you love Harvester so much?

When people slagged me off, I couldn’t understand why - I think it’s because poor people eat in there. They’ve got a brilliantly fresh salad bar, unlimited diet cokes, they do burgers and grilled chicken. They’ve also got a calorie count of every dish, they even label the calories
 at the salad bar on each vinaigrette dressing and they offer healthier options on everything they do. They have butter and low calorie spread; they really do try and promote healthy eating… what’s the problem?! Because there’s loads of working class families in there, people slag it off; well have a look at it, they’re grilling chicken the same as anywhere else - a Michelin star chef can grill a chicken, these guys are grilling a chicken: it’s chicken and chips, what’s the issue? 

On the topic of tweeting I heard you met your wife on twitter…

I met Heidi on Twitter yeah.

I’m sure all your lady fans would love to know how that came about... 

She tweeted me as a fan and I started chatting to her. First of all, she was funny, then I realised how clever she was, and then I looked at her picture and thought ‘oh my word’, whaaaaoooo baby!!

I sent her a direct message and asked her if she was ever in London, she told me she had friends here so I asked her out for lunch. I ended up buying her dinner instead at Scott’s fish restaurant then walked round the corner for dessert at the Gavroche.

I love Michel Roux Junior’s restaurant Le Gavroche in Mayfair: the foods so good if you don't want to eat it you can take it home and snog it.

On the subject of food, it’s been reported that you and co-host John Torode try up to 2000 dishes throughout Masterchef; do you ever get sick of food?

Me and John sometimes taste fish, followed by rhubarb, followed by beef, followed by strawberries: but how can you ever get sick of food?! You’d die!! However someone did once cook us a roast quail on top of a chocolate cake…
 

Are the dishes not cold by the time you get to taste them?

All the dishes are cold (room temperature) as we need to go in to get the close ups of them so you at home can see what the contestants have cooked. But you gotta remember that we’re not eating our dinner, we’re testing the dishes, the look, taste and texture, which is all the same hot or cold.
 

Do you miss John when you’re not filming with him?

Funnily enough I do. Me and John are big, big muckers. 2 years ago a rumour went round that me and John don’t get on and it was laughable! Anyone that has been near Masterchef knows that me and John are close, we probably text each other once every 2 days and when we’re not filming we meet up every 3-4 weeks for dinner - we’re both very busy men.
 

You and John don’t always see eye to eye during the competition, who gets the final say?
John does. He’s more stubborn than me.
 

Shalina won Masterchef and was consistent throughout, but do you not think she over did it on the mangoes a little bit?!  

No! No-no-no-no, not one little bit! I love a mango! I love Shalina’s plump mangoes! They’re fantastic. As soon as that girl got a mango out of a box I knew I was in for a treat.
 

Who would you choose as a mentor on Masterchef?
 
If I was a contestant I’d want to be mentored by John out of everyone as he’s a great chef and understands what it takes to win Masterchef.
 

Not Michel Roux Jnr?

Michele Roux Jnr is a world class chef. You don’t need to cook at that level to win Masterchef.
 


And finally, I’m sure you’ve seen your buttery biscuit base video on Youtube; what do you think of it? 

I love it. I absolutely love it. When I first saw it I laughed and laughed and laughed until I cried; absolute genius!