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Meet restaurant critic Jay Rayner

Published on February 21, 2017
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The award winning writer and broadcaster, MasterChef judge and restaurant critic is currently on tour with his live show, The Ten (Food) Commandments. We spoke to him before his visits to Honiton and Bristol

Jay Rayner

Salty or sweet?

Don’t make me choose. It would be like choosing between my children.

Early food memory?

Boiled eggs and soldiers, all mushed up in a cup with melting salted butter, fed to me by my mother when I was ill.

What’s your favourite restaurant in the South West?

It has to be the restaurant at Mannings Hotel in Truro, where I pushed my way into the kitchen to find out whether they were really cooking the very varied and rather brilliant menu from scratch. They were.

What inspires you to write and review restaurants?

My inspiration arrives regularly in thin white envelopes: they’re called bills that need paying. As to reviewing restaurants, I could be a smart arse about it but the honest answer is I love them. Every time you walk through the door of a restaurant is a moment of possibility.

Have you been threatened by irate chefs after a bad review?

No, but chefs’ mothers have emailed to tell me off.

Does your finger hover over the send button filing a lousy review?

I don’t write a negative review unless I feel it’s entirely justified, so never. However, I do question some of my dodgier jokes, and hope that my editors will save me from myself.

What do you cook at home?

It tends to be hearty stuff such as braised shoulder of lamb, Vietnamese seafood noodle soup and pork and chorizo stew.

Which six people would you like to have supper with?

Peter Ustinov for the anecdotes, Dorothy Parker for the wit and martinis, Miriam Margolyes to bounce off Dorothy and Peter, Fats Waller for the piano skills, Ella Fitzgerald to sing with Fats, and Dita Von Teese … just because.

Favourite weekend breakfast?

Scrambled eggs and smoked salmon – but it has to be good smoked salmon.

What can we expect from The Ten (Food) Commandments show?

It’s me playing a biblical prophet with ten killer food commandments, leading you to the culinary promised land. It’s basically a night of standup comedy using audio visual tools as a second performer on stage.

Plus I want to hear the audience’s food commandments. Generally it turns into one big conversation with the audience about our dinner.

Jay Rayner’s show, The Ten (Food) Commandments, appears at The Beehive, Honiton, on March 4 and Bristol’s Redgrave Theatre on March 30. For tickets, go to www.beehivehoniton.co.uk and www.redgravetheatre.com.

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