James Martin has made a great impact since he began to appear on television in November 1996 and has rarely been off screen since. More recently hitting new record viewing figures of 3.5 million, presenting BBC1′s hugely successful weekly show Saturday Kitchen for the last 6 years. He now has two further new shows to add to his list – James Martin Operation Hospital Food for BBC1 and United Cakes Of America for UKFood both airing in 2013. One of the highlights for him was filming Racing Legends with Sir Jackie Stewart which aired in December 2012 on BBC2 where James followed the life of one of his racing heros on and off the track. Racing is James’s love outside of the world of food where he can be seen regulary racing historic racing cars around the UK and Europe. This passion for cars has led him to be the motoring correspondant for The Mail on Sunday where he tests cars and writes about them on a weekly basis. In Autumn 2006 James gained a whole new army of fans with his newfound prowess on the dance floor in Strictly Come Dancing (BBC1) where he reached the semi-finals, before that James spent 9 years on BBC1 & BBC2 appearing on Ready Steady Cook.
James’ father was catering manager at the stately home – Castle Howard and James was brought up in a farmhouse in Yorkshire. At 16 he began his formal training at Scarborough Technical College, where he was Student of the Year for three years running.
Antony Worrall Thompson noticed his work, and brought him to London to work in the kitchens of 190 Queensgate, followed by dell’Ugo. Also in the 3 years working in London he worked for many of the great chefs in the early part of the 90s. James then toured France, working in the kitchens of some of the old chateaux, often cooking side by side with the mothers and grandmothers of the grand old families and during that time gained experience in 2 and 3 star establishments. Back in England, he then worked at the 5 red star Chewton Glen for two years as pastry chef.
In 1994, at the tender age of 22, James opened the Hotel and Bistro du Vin in Winchester as Head Chef, where he changed the menu everyday. It was a spring-board to the hotel opening up 9 further hotels over the next 10 years.
His television career began in November ‘96 with The Big Breakfast and Ready Steady Cook. He’s filmed many of his own TV series: Kid’s Eat The Funniest Things, Fifty Ways To Feed Your Lover, For Better For Worse, Simply Fish, Scouting About and Entertaining With James. He was the co-presenter of two shows too – Use Your Loaf with Paul Hollywood and Master and Servant with Antony Worrall Thompson.
James recorded Kitchen Invaders, broadcast on BBC1 from January 2001 and he was the resident chef on Housecall for 5 years, BBC1′s successful live daytime show, as well as co-presenter on UK Food’s Good Food Live.
His first series was linked with his Delicious! Cookbook for UK Food and his second series was called James Martin Sweet. In 2004 he spent several weeks in Yorkshire filming his third series for UKTV, Yorkshire’s Finest, which showed James sourcing and cooking local produce all of which rated the highest figures on the network.
James was the presenter of two series of Out of the Frying Pan for Carlton TV in 2003 & 2004. In autumn 2004 James was co-presenter of a number of programmes in the Too Many Cooks series for ITV1. In 2005 James made two series of Castle in the Country (BBC2) cooking at Glamis Castle and Castle Howard. Most recently his Digs Deep series on UK Food is all about producing and cooking your own produce and was filmed in James’s own garden.
James has guested on a number of programmes, including Love Your Country, The One Show, Loose Women, Chris Evans Radio 2 Breakfast Show, The Heat is On, Surprise Chefs, Junior Master Chef, BBC2’s Food & Drink, Channel 4’s Light Lunch, The Vanessa Show, Blue Peter, Children’s BBC1, Songs of Praise, Weekend Watchdog, Food for Thought, BBC Breakfast News, Carlton Food Network Daily, Superchefs and The Great Escape and he has made many live appearances on the afternoon programme Sky 1 to 3.
In 1998 he and some of his fellow Ready Steady Cook chefs stripped to The Full Monty on BBC1 for Children in Need infront of 12 million viewers. He recorded a 70 part daytime series for Channel 4 Why Weight? as resident chef.
He has written a regular recipe columns for BBC GoodFood Magazine, Ideal Home magazine, been a contributor to Fresh, Delicious and had a cooking page in the weekly publication Garden Life.
James gives many demonstrations of cookery across the UK each year at events like the Derbyshire County Show, Nantwich, Malvern, Shrewsbury, Denby, Bolton and the Yorkshire Food & Drink Show. Until 2009 James was Chairman of the judges of the prestigious Nestle Toque D’Or Award, since then he is on the judging panel of the most presitigous cooking competition in the UK – The Roux Scholarship.
His first book, Eating In With James Martin was published in October 1998 and his second The Deli Cookbook in autumn 2000. Great British Dinners came out in 2003 with Easy British Food following mid June 2005. Great British Winter was published in 2006. The Great British Village Show Cookbook, published in Feb 2007 by BBC Books, to coincide with his forthcoming BBC 1 primetime series. Then came a BBC 2 primetime evening cooking series on desserts with a book to follow the series called Sweet Baby James. More recently he has published The Collection, My Kitchen, Masterclass and his latest book Slow by James Martin, published by Quadrille. All of which are available on the website shop (signed copies).
James endorses a range of kitchen electrical appliances with Wahl and a range of saucepans and chefs knives with Stellar, and has large range of cookware with Denby Pottery. He is also involved with Underwood kitchens – a design and manufacturing company and co owns Cadogan & James in Winchester. Life Fork and Spoon was opened in 2012 providing people with ready prepared food delivered to your door. James also consults for Thomas Cook airlines and is heavly involved in developing and testing the 3 million meals and all the menus produced thoughout the year. This has also been enjoyable for James as he holds a pilots license and is currently learning to fly helicoptors.
In 2011 his restaurant, Leeds Kitchen, opened in Clarence Dock, Leeds. It went on to win awards and was the first UK casino restaurant to be placed in the Michelin Guide.
In 2012 James opened his second restaurant inside the newly refurbished hotel, The Talbot, Malton, North Yorkshire, an area where he spent all of his childhood. The hotel offers a relaxed bar service during the day, afternoon teas, and a fine dining restaurant. The restaurant was placed in the Michelin Guide at the end of 2012. In June 2013 it was reviewed by food critic Jay Rayner for the Observer who described his meal there as “the single best plate of food I have been served this year” and “three beautifully poised, close to faultless dishes”.
On June 10th 2013 James was honoured with The Craft Guild of Chefs Special Award. The Special Award is presented to someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the industry, and James was praised for his commitment. Taken by completely surprise, as he thought he was there to present an award, James commented afterwards “This award is the biggest and only award I’ve ever won, it means a great deal to me as it is judged and awarded by my peers”.