Ed Gamble: ‘I was a little human dustbin as a child. I’d eat every morsel’ | Food TV

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I think about food 80% of the time. I guess the other 20% is sleeping.

My favourite episodes of Off Menu [Gamble’s food and drink podcast with fellow comedian James Acaster] are the ones that just spin off into ridiculous stories, or dig down into how weird people are. Serge from the band Kasabian said when he was growing up, he couldn’t eat food if there was a magician on the telly. No one’s ever said that. Then he says: “I just started thinking about how their props bag must really smell.” So we were like: “That’s the weirdest thing we’ve ever heard.” Well, actually, James was like: “No, I think I understand that.” And I’m like: “Of course you do.”

I always rejected the children’s menu. They’d hand you a horrible menu covered in sticky fingerprints, with crayon scribbled all over it that only offered fish fingers or chicken nuggets. Just base stuff for children, which is a mad way of going about things. At no point did I want to eat that. I wanted what my mum and dad were eating.

My friends’ parents loved me coming over, because you could treat me like a little human dustbin. I was a lot fatter than the other children. I enjoyed every single morsel presented to me. Which I’m glad of; it gave me a good basis in food. And now that’s a large part of my job.

My mum made an amazing chicken noodle dish, a really nice mozzarella pasta bake, and a chicken and sweet potato casserole. It’s really sweet, she sent me away to university with a book she made with all the recipes. And obviously I didn’t cook them once. Actually, I might have cooked the chicken noodle dish once in the third year to try and impress some people. But it was just an absolute pizza feast for three years.

I didn’t expect when we met Jamie Oliver [for the podcast] that he’d get into talking about his underpants so quickly. And I certainly didn’t expect him to come back into the room at the end of the interview to show us the underpants he’d just been to the toilet to take off. But the company in question sent us some underpants, I’m wearing them right now.

Any diabetic will tell you, it’s like having another, 24-hour job. Especially if you really like food and you like trying new things. Because every time you try something new, you don’t necessarily know how your body will react to it. So I really think about the impact it is going to have, but quite often I’ll go: “I’m going to eat it anyway.”

I was vegan for about nine months, I gave that a go. That sums me up a little bit. If I decide I want to do something, I’ll really stick to it quite intensely for a long time. Then one day, wake up and go: “Well, I’m not doing that any more.” And I’ll go completely in the opposite direction.

I got really into barbecuing during the lockdown. It became an issue. I was barbecuing five times a week when it was really nice weather. But then I did a roast lamb on the barbecue when it was snowing and I’ve done ribs when it was pissing it down with rain.

Washing up is in the family genes. My grandad used to claim he was the Northern Ireland junior champion of washing up. And I believed that for a long time, because someone made him a certificate and he had it on the wall. It took me until I was about 21 to realise it was a joke.

My favourite things

Food

Slow-cooked meat. Or anything slow-cooked, really. I like the feeling of putting together ingredients and just giving it time and a little bit of heat. And then hours later pulling out something that just works and is comforting and warm.

Drink

A Californian cabernet sauvignon is always a pretty good bet.

Restaurant

The Quality Chop House in London. That’s the first place I went after the last lockdown was lifted and we sat on a little table outside and just ordered far too much.

Dish to make

It’s always a big exciting day in our house when I make my lasagne. I do it properly as well: ragu, bechamel, a lot of cheese. I like to think it would upset an Italian but it is bloody tasty.

Ed Gamble tours the UK from 22 Feb and he will be a judge on the new series of Great British Menu. Off Menu, with Gamble and James Acaster, is available on all podcast providers

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