Simon Rimmer talks Strictly, food and BBQs
Chef Simon Rimmer is trying out a new type of salsa as he steps out of the kitchen and on to the dancefloor. . .
You have to admire his chutzpah. Simon Rimmer – star of Strictly Come Dancing and myriad TV cooking shows – wants to talk about BBQs. It may be the end of summer. And we might be as likely to light up a bed of charcoals as we are of going punting down an iced-over Black Country canal, but Simon is undaunted. More of which later.
For now, however, Simon is immersed in all things Strictly.
We interview him as the series is about to start – and it’s fair to say he’s no idea what he’s let himself in for.
“I’m a week into training and I can honestly say it’s been one of the most brilliant weeks of my life. From the minute you walk through the door, everyone is there to make you have the best time. I have moments of abject panic. On the other shows I knew how to cook. Now, I can’t dance and don’t know how to dance. But I’m genuinely having a great time.”
He has enormous admiration and respect for his fellow competitors and for the dance professionals who put them through their paces. “Every single one of them is amazing. In the first week’s training you get to dance with all of the pros. They all offer something a little different. They are all brilliant. It comes back to that amazing thing: they’re all constantly looking to help you. But when you see them dancing on their own or with the pros they blow you away. They are seriously good.”
Simon isn’t planning to lift the Glitter Ball Trophy. Though his pride would take a hit if he was the first one to be ejected. However, he realises the odds are stacked against him – he has spent as much time waltzing in his career as Anton du Beke has spent cooking foie gras crème brûlées.
“I think the last time I danced was at V Festival last year. It was 8pm and I’d had way too much to drink. Hallelujah came on by The Happy Mondays. But I’m not sure you could call that dancing. It’s more like Pavlov’s Dogs, as any middle aged man will tell you.”
He’s bracing himself for the being-spotted-in-the-supermarket scenarios that will play out over coming months. For Strictly is a show unlike any other. Even shorn of Bruce and Len, it remains the nation’s favourite family entertainment.
“I’ve never known anything like it. It makes you realise the scale and size of the show. The reaction is astonishing. I got papped yesterday. I’ve been on TV for every weekend of the last 10 years and I have never been papped – OK, maybe once at the football – so that’s quite bizarre. But when I looked in the paper, there’s a picture of me chatting with Anton from some paparazzi. People I haven’t spoken to for 15 years are calling me up. People are stopping my mum in the street. It’s amazing in a positive way. I’m sure I’ve got no chance but it’s still a very positive experience.”
Simon made his name in food. An accomplished chef, he’s the face of alternative cooking – a man who can whip up a great dinner while talking about football and the Stone Roses’ back catalogue. He hails from the North West and is proud of those roots. “From Cumbria down to Staffordshire, nobody has more diverse agriculture than us.
“And what’s happened is that people have finally realised that Britain is good at food. Historically we always felt the French, Spanish and Italians did things better. But now we know that’s nonsense. We have amazing cheese in the North West. There’s great dairy, pork, beef, lamb, chickens and amazing fruit and veg. There’s nothing better.
“The interesting thing is that at the back end of the nineties, restaurants would highlight that they were using local produce. Now it’s expected. Any restaurant worth its salt is using locally-produced food. Everywhere is proud of their regional heritage.”
The man who made his name on BBC Two’s Something For The Weekend, Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch and its spin-off, Daily Brunch, is an ambassador for Weber BBQs. That’s the reason he’s talking to us – so it would be rude not to let him rejoice in their delights. Over to you, Mr Two Burgers, Three Sausages and A Plate Of Ribs.
“The thing is, you get what you pay for and theirs are made to be outside and used all the time. I’m not just saying it because I work with them, but it’s something that you don’t need to hide in the shed. You can use it all year. You can use it in winter time in Dakota when it’s minus 35 degrees. Everything about them is quality. When I started using them, it was like going from a Vauxhall Corsa to a Rolls Royce. The BBQ for me is big hunks of meat, cooked low and slow. It’s not just about summer. You can do your Sunday roast on one, or do a really lovely big piece of pork on there with rubs and good marinades.
“Once you experience that flavour, when you get the smokiness and charring and intense barking on the meat, you never want to cook in an oven again.”
Strictly – and a penchant for BBQs – won’t take Simon away from Sunday Brunch. He loves hanging out on there with his co-host, Tim Lovejoy.
“Tim and I have worked together for 10 years. We moved channels and didn’t miss a week. The show is all about hanging out with a best mate, eating nice food, meeting incredible people and listening to live music. There’s not a better way to spend the weekend.” Except, perhaps, with an episode of Strictly followed by a BBQ.
l Simon’s ‘people’ asked us to include this. We’re nice, so we will. For more barbecue tips and hints please visit weber.com