When James Martin was eight, he predicted he’d be a head chef by 30, have his own restaurant by 35 and a Ferrari by 40. Instead, he’d achieved them all by the age of 24.
Now that he’s 40, with TV shows including BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen, best-selling books, restaurants, a delicatessen, cookware range and a campaign to revamp hospital food, James is rapidly on his way to becoming as prolific as Jamie Oliver.
But success is not all he and Oliver have in common – both are dyslexic, something James credits with giving him the drive to succeed.
‘I think it’s because you’re proving yourself all the time. It’s not financial. It’s about proving to yourself that you can do it because when you were younger you were five to ten years behind everybody else at school. I’ve always had to fight for everything. Now I’m of the belief that if I don’t do something, somebody is going to beat me to it so that keeps me going. I still feel like I’m fighting now. I will never think I have it all and sit back.’
So rather than relaxing and enjoying the estimated £5 million fortune he’s amassed, James has made another TV series, James Martin’s United Cakes Of America, in which he bakes authentic desserts from each state along the East coast of the US.
‘I thought it was just doughnuts and pretzels in America but baking is massive over there – every family in America bakes,’ he explains. ‘By comparison, the British fascination with baking is relatively new.’
James’s own fascination with baking started long ago, when he was growing up on a Yorkshire pig farm watching his mother, grandmother and aunt cook. James also spent time washing pots at Castle Howard, the stately home where Brideshead Revisited was filmed and where his father worked as estate manager.