Review: James Martin at Bridlington Spa

James Martin with his Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle
James Martin with his Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle

Take a fillet of fish, a rising souffle mix in a pomegranate salad and a dash of charm and – voila – you have the perfect dish, an evening with James Martin.

Yep, the boy from Malton did good in his first live tour. It was a sell-out success in Bridlington where more than a 1,000 people came to see their local food hero.

He did what Paul Hollywood failed to do – sell out the Royal Hall. The Great British Bake Off star played to 500 fans – and Martin made sure Hollywood knew who was the star.

He took pictures of his audience and then texted the photos to the celebrity baker. Hollywood’s response was unrepeatable.

The appetite for cookery programmes and its presenters are still there – what Martin has that Hollywood has not are connections – local ones.

Born in a village in Ryedale, he attended local schools before attending what was then Scarborough Technical College to study catering.

He had every praise for his lecturers for teaching him straightforward culinary skills. At age 17 he headed for London to work for Marco Pierre White.

He has appeared on Ready Steady Cook and presents Home Comforts. His decision to quit Saturday Kitchen after 10 years caused a melt down from fans begging him to stay.

He did talk about that – but only to say what he already has: he’s quitting because he wants Saturday mornings to himself – not because of a dodgy sink.

But it is not just his local connections that endear him to us – Martin has natural charm. There’s no flirting with the flambe, crudeness with the crudites – just old-fashioned empathy. He is down to earth.

He is aware he is dishy – the word is used on some of his merchandise – but there is not a soupcon of arrogance about Martin just spoonfuls, large, of self-effacing humour.

There have been few salacious stories about him and women – and the man loves his mum who was in the audience with his sister (the butt of an hilarious story about olive stones).

Martin also keeps it real – he cooked up nine dishes altogether – no flair, no finesse – which I am sure he has but this was not a Michelin-starred occasion – but they looked good enough to eat.

The blow-torched mackerel, salmon mousse, garlic butter chicken and Swiss roll were put together in minutes.

Martin engaged with his audience in a question and answer session – but more just by chatting to them – and thanking them for years of support.

His finale – won’t spoil it in case you are going – but it was wonderfully funny and in keeping with his have-ago personality.