Award-winning Walton Le Dale chef Professor Spice offers top tips for cooking during isolation

He's amassed millions of views on Youtube, has had his recipes published worldwide and holds the record for eating the world's hottest Pot Noodle.

By Laura Longworth
Wednesday, 25th March 2020, 5:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th March 2020, 5:02 pm
Walton-le-Dale chef Professor Spice, who holds the record for eating the world's hottest Pot Noodle.
Walton-le-Dale chef Professor Spice, who holds the record for eating the world's hottest Pot Noodle.

After completing this eye-watering feat, Walton-le-Dale chef Professor Spice landed a top job as a spice consultant for Pot Noodle and says he has eaten the world's hottest chilli just for fun.

Despite such huge achievements, Professor Spice, AKA Carl Redman, says he wasn't taught to cook in school.

In fact, the dad-of-six only embarked on a path to becoming a chef when he recreated a restaurant dish at home, and began noticing how many additives are in shop-bought sauces.

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A curry made by Professor Spice.

Now, Carl is offering his top tips to nail the basics of cooking and make the best of what we can buy from supermarkets during a time of stockpiling and self-isolation.

The 46-year-old said: "It's an odd situation that we're in but you just have to crack on with it.

"We're all a bit worried and need to keep us busy. Otherwise, we might dwell and worry more.

"Cooking gets people away from being sat on their phones. Facebook is full of worry, anxiety and negativity.

A pasta dish made by Professor Spice.

"It's important to educate yourself, but being in the kitchen allows us to be creative and channel our focus and energy into something that has a great outcome.

He added: "The number one thing to know about cooking is that it relieves stress."

And it's not just the adults who can be kept busy in the kitchen.

"Get the kids involved. Here's an opportunity to introduce children to the kitchen," Carl said.

Commenting on the importance of getting into a life-long habit of cooking our own meals, he added: "As a generation, we've become over-reliant on the fast food industry.

"The amount of hidden sugar in shop-bought sauces is horrendous. We're heading into the same sugar-loaded world as America.

"But you know what's going into a dish when you make it yourself. There aren't any preservatives, added sugar or E numbers."

The first rule to note when you step into the kitchen is maintaining cleanliness: keep raw meats separate, wash your hands and wipe everything down before you begin, he says.

His second rule is to never waste any food.

"Everything gets used in my kitchen," he said.

"If you poach a chicken breast, you can use the leftover stock for soup.

"And the oysters - [the two small, oyster-shaped pieces of dark meat that lie on either side of a whole chicken's backbone] - are prize bits of meat.

"So many people bin them after making a roast, but if you break them up and cook them with pasta and sweetcorn, you have a chicken noodle soup, basically for free."

Soups in general, as well as paella dishes, are a great way of using up leftover vegetables, Carl adds.

"If you cook a bit extra, you can turn it into something else, like a vegetable biryani.

"And soup is pretty much unlimited. If you go to a restaurant on the weekend, the veg from the Sunday roast will probably be put into a soup on the Monday.

"Tomato soup is really easy to make. All you need are chopped tomatoes, basil and a blender. And tomatoes are one of the most health beneficial foods you can get."

If do find yourself stuck for ideas, all the answers can be found online, he says.

"There really are a thousand and odd things you can make. You just have to make the most of what you've got," he said.

"If you search a random group of ingredients, no matter how bizarre you think the combination is, it will come up with recipes.

"Your only limitation is your imagination. Some of the best recipes I've ever created have been with whatever ingredients I've got in the fridge."

And of course, as Carl loves to do, you can always reach into the spice cupboard.

"Use herbs and spices to make bland food tasty. Spices have lots of health benefits, especially chili, which is my speciality," he said.

"Sugar, garlic, salt and vinegar are flavour enhancers that can make anything tasty."

And there is no need to worry about supermarket shelves being stripped bare - chances are you will be able to find replacements for key ingredients.

"You can even make bread without adding any yeast, if you use a good beer. That has yeast in it. The bubbles in beer help the bread to rise," said Carl.

"In fact, recipes should be used for inspiration. You don't need to follow them entirely.

"A recipe is like a phrase book. If you were to go to France and either looked in a phrase book or spoke fluent French, you'd get the same result but you'd say it in different ways.

"Likewise, a recipe is a guideline. So get creative and put your own spin on it."

And there is no shame in going back to basics.

As Carl added: "Food does not need to be complicated. Some people think everything you make has to be to MasterChef standards.

"But if you have good quality ingredients, then you can make a tasty dish."