I’m getting used to my new surrounding. My wife, Jenny and I, have experienced a real change of lifestyle since we finished at the New Inn, our former pub at Baschurch, in Shropshire, and sold it to my parents.
I was used to being on shift for six or seven days a week and there are times when it’s been difficult adapting to the change of pace here at Brompton Cookery School, near Shrewsbury.
I now have a bit more time on my hands – but I still have 101 things to do. I’ll be honest with you, there are times when it’s hard to prioritise and get everything done.
One of the reasons Jenny and I decided to take on the cookery school and B&B was because we knew that it would give us more time with each other. Most of all, however, we knew it would give us more time with our two young daughters. We also thought we’d be very good at the business.
We plan to spend the next 10 or 20 years growing our business at Brompton Farmhouse. We are determined to make it something special. For Jenny and I, it’s not about the money. We need to earn a living, the same as everybody else; but we’re determined to develop something special and involve our daughters in that process.
One of the reasons I love being a chef is because I learn something every day. Cheffing gives me the chance to meet people who have the same passion for food as me. Most of all, I mix with people who really want to put the effort into learning a new technique to improve their skills.
That is the reason I originally applied for Iron Chef, when I saw it advertised online. It wasn’t about being on TV, it was about improving my culinary skills and giving myself the chance to learn from other chefs. Most people would think it mad to enter a TV cookery competition just to learn: but that’s why I did it.
I created recipes that showed skill and technique, like fresh pasta, slow cooking, pastry. I had to make those for the first time in my kitchen, learning from books and DVDs, then putting my own twist on recipes. I did it because I wanted to show everyone that I could cook.
When I cooked for the judges and competed against the Iron Chefs, with cameras filming our every move, it gave me a big adrenalin rush. I was scared, nervous and excited.
I watched the other Iron Chefs psych themselves up. There were respected chefs like Tom Aikens, Martin Blunos and Judy Joo. The last thing they wanted was to be beaten by an amateur chef like me.
The experience had a massive impact on me as a chef and a person and now I believe I will never stop learning. I am constantly striving to better myself.
It’s fantastic that TV chefs are so popular these days. But as a TV chef, I also realise that you have to have something else; something to keep you grounded. It’s very easy to become obsessed with celebrity and status, particularly when you’re a regular on the box.
I’ve had all sorts of calls, including one when I was told I’d been put forward to present a new show. I’d have travelled around the world, cooking and learning about different food cultures. It could have been amazing, but in the world of TV these ideas come and go.
So now the time has come for myself and Jenny to start moving Brompton forward. If more TV work comes my way, I’ll take it as it comes. But at the moment I’m in the most perfect place I’ve ever been.
Marcus Bean is a regular on ITV This Morning. He owns the Brompton Cookery School, at Atcham, near Shrewsbury, on a National Trust Estate.