Johannesburg - Rick Stein is no stranger to South Africa’s small screen. The British restaurateur/celebrity chef is renowned for soaking up the culture and the culinary delights of the places he visits.
First holiday memory?
While I wasn’t born or brought up in Cornwall, it would have been learning how to swim on a beach there. In those days, we used to have woollen swimming costumes. I recall learning to swim in a deep rock pool, the smell of the seaweed and those uncomfortable woollen swimming trunks.
Favourite place in South Africa?
I have just been to Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge – that was so, so special. And the bay in Hermanus is really good too. I’m loving the jacarandas in full bloom in Joburg. It is just so beautiful.
Well, apart from the game lodge, which is in a class of its own, I would say Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. In winter last year, my wife and I went there. When you tell people you are going to Mexico, they go: “What about all the drug problems?” But you just don’t see it. And I love Mexican food and the whole culture.
What have you learnt from your travels?
Don’t take big hand luggage. You are not going to gain much by avoiding waiting for your luggage to be delivered to you on the carousel… and it is rare to lose luggage. It just does my head in the way people get on the plane with two cases and cram it all in the overhead lockers. So I make a point of taking the smallest bag. I really like travelling light. But when I’m filming, I can’t do so as I have to have various outfits to change into.
Ideal travelling companion?
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
Bit of both.
Greatest travel luxury?
Travelling business class.
I like to read books about where I’m going, especially fiction as I get a sort of atmosphere of the place.
What place has seduced you?
There are quite a few. Thailand, particularly, is a perfect beach holiday for me. The first time I went to Goa was really special, as well as Singapore. I think the first time you go somewhere great it will truly seduce you.
Worst travel experience?
When we were filming in India for the first time, we had all our luggage impounded at the airport. And I thought that we were never going to get it back because, in those days, they were very sensitive about people taking equipment into India and selling it. However, a guy that I knew, who had a hotel in Goa, put up a cheque for about R65 000 as assurance. I mean, is that friendship or what?
I love La Colombe d’Or just outside Nice. It was the original place where Picasso paid for their dinner with a quick painting.
Favourite walk, swim, ride or drive?
I would say the walk from Padstow to Trevose Head in Cornwall.
Best meal abroad?
There are so many. I am going to go with something more recent. In Croatia, I had this black cuttlefish risotto.
What place has seduced you?
That would be Venice. It’s a bit like the Taj Mahal, it lives up to expectations. You think nothing could beat what’s in your mind… and it does.
Where to next?
I’m going to Berlin next. It’s work.
l Rick Stein is no stranger to South Africa’s small screen. The British restaurateur/celebrity chef is renowned for soaking up the culture and the culinary delights of the places he visits. He was recently here for Durban’s Good Food & Wine Show. And his new show, Rick Stein: From Venice to Istanbul, is scheduled to air on BBC Lifestyle next year.