As he prepares to take Pub in the Park on tour, Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge talks to Jessica Jonzen about food, festivals and community spirit.
Marlow’s first Pub in the Park sold out in just 24 hours last year – what made it so popular?
The beautiful thing about Marlow is the brilliant community spirit – everybody supports and goes in for new ideas. We were so blown away by the response to Pub in the Park. The atmosphere was amazing – the whole town was buzzing off it for weeks, so we were desperate to do it again.
This year, you’re also taking Pub in the Park to Bath, Tunbridge Wells and Knutsford. How did you decide on the locations?
We wanted places that had a similar sort of vibe to Marlow, places that were community-led, family-based –wonderful places to live that weren’t also major cities. We were trying to find towns with a similar demographic to Marlow, which would embrace something like this.
Will the Marlow event be similar to last year?
We’ve added a couple of extra pubs and the Thursday night, so we’ve got four nights now, and the footprint in the park is going to be bigger. We’ve also got the incredible Jason Atherton from Berners Tavern; Chris King from The Wigmore – Roux Jr’s pub in Regent Street; and one of my best friends, Claude Bosi from Bibendum, will be coming with the Bibendum Oyster Bar. We’ve got Josh Eggleton from the Pony & Trap, plus the team from The Hand and Flowers, The Coach and many more. Jamie Cullum, Melanie C, Texas, Razorlight, KT Tunstall and Stereo MCs are performing.
There has been such a huge shift in interest in food – everyone wants to know how to cook and eat better. Why is that?
I think it’s the realisation that enjoying good food doesn’t mean you have to wear a shirt and tie. Farmers’ markets have great food and the opportunity to talk to people with heart, soul and passion – it’s all about celebrating food. That’s why Pub in the Park comes across as a big food love-in!
As well as running two Michelin-starred pubs (The Hand and Flowers and The Coach), you’ve opened The Butcher’s Tap in Marlow, got a new cookbook out, Pub in the Park is going on tour, and you are opening a new restaurant at the Corinthia hotel in London. How do you fit it all in?
I don’t look too far ahead – it makes me kind of hyperventilate and I need a paper bag! I’m lucky that I went into a kitchen as an 18-year-old and found a career I fell in love with. The key is that there is an amazing team around me. I’d love more sleep, but at the moment everything is fantastic.