The owner of Jimmy’s Farm answers our quickfire food quiz. By Prudence Wade.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a dish Jimmy Doherty wasn’t up for trying.
The 46-year-old farmer admits he’s had to eat “pretty much everything and anything” over the years, particularly on TV show Food Unwrapped, looking at the secrets behind how food is really made.
Doherty – who you might also recognise from Jamie And Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast, presented with childhood friend Jamie Oliver – is the owner of Jimmy’s Farm & Wildlife Park, getting up close and personal with unusual animals on a day-to-day basis, from capybaras to zebras.
When not working on the farm, you’ll find Doherty in the kitchen. We asked him some quickfire questions to find out more about his life in food…
Your death row meal is… That’s always a very difficult one, because it’s the last flavours you’ll ever have. It’s going to be something like a Sri Lankan crab curry, because I love Sri Lankan [food]. [You have] to pick all the meat out, so you’re going to last longer. That would be one thing, or it would be something very, very simple that puts you back to the simple things in life: that might even just be ham, egg and chips.
The one dish you still can’t cook is… There’s loads of things I can’t quite get right in the kitchen. Baking is always a mystery because when I’m cooking you can always add a bit more of this or take a bit of that out, but baking is always a bit more difficult. It’s a bit more of a science. Gnocchi is always a difficult one, but definitely baking.
Your favourite cupboard essential is… That changes quite a lot. Something like capers, because capers can turn anything into something fantastic. So if you’re doing a bit of cod, or whatever fish it is, if you just put your butter in a bit of lemon juice and then you have capers in, you get like a burnt butter and caper sauce. Really simple – you can run it through pasta, there’s endless things like that. So capers are always good, I like things that make food a bit more sparky.
The kitchen utensil you can’t live without is… A steel – a knife sharpener. We have a butchery at the farm, so a steel is really important. One thing I can’t stand is a blunt knife, and people don’t sharpen their knives. What you do is get yourself some nice knives that are super sharp – people buy knives and think they’re going to stay sharp forever – but [you need to] sharpen them before use, then sharpen them afterwards. Don’t put them in the dishwasher, put them in a tea towel and in a drawer. My test is trying to slice the tomato – if you can’t slice the tomato your knife’s not sharp – and a blunt knife is a dangerous knife.
Your favourite late night snack is… I had pickled cucumbers last night, they were pretty good. I like walnuts and I like almonds, just plain. But I think sometimes you get a really good packet of crisps and a pint of beer, and it’s hard to argue with that. Pork scratchings, they’re pretty good – not necessarily late night, they’re more of an afternoon pub kind of thing. I think a pickled something or other – whatever it might be: a gherkin, a pickled onion – something like that.
You like your eggs… Fried. I love a fried egg: runny yolk, maybe crispy edges.
Your favorite childhood dinner was… Ham, egg and chips.
What did you eat last night? I had a spicy chickpea and feta salad with avocado.
Your takeout of choice has to be… It’s got to be Chinese.
Your ultimate hangover cure is… Ham, eggs and chips! If I’m on holiday: hair of the dog. If not, then it’s probably something like five cups of tea and a full fry-up.
The one thing you just can’t stomach… I’m pretty good. Filming Food Unwrapped and shows like that over the last 18 years, I’ve had to eat pretty much everything and anything. Sea urchin I struggle with somewhat – I eat oysters all day long, but when you crack open a sea urchin, I just think it’s a weird thing in an ashtray. I’ve had to eat fermented shark in Iceland quite a lot – I’ve done that about three or four times. Life must have been tough in those days when that was part of the normal diet. You often eat it and have vodka, and you really get an appreciation of the vodka.
Your signature dish has to be… Full rib of beef, Yorkshire puds, the lot. Or it will be a Sri Lankan curry with sambal – I do like a Sri Lankan curry.
Visit Jimmy’s Farm & Wildlife Park in Suffolk. Book tickets at jimmysfarm.com.