He’s the future Queen’s son, the author of five cook books, a food writer, critic and, as I discovered, a super nice and down to earth bloke.
Tom Parker-Bowles, star of Channel 9’s The Hot Plate, took a phone call from this proud royalist and fielded the questions I’ve always wanted to ask anyone from the royal family, including one that relates to little Princesses.
Instead of closing up and ending the interview, which I worried would happen, he didn’t. He was candid, fun and, more importantly, love’s Australia.
You moved your whole family here to film Hot Plate. What do you love about Australia?
I was up near you, in Byron for a while and the weather is just joyous, as an Englishman I love the weather and the people and it’s joyous to be here every day. I asked my daughter, who is 7, what was her favorite part of Australia and she said Byron and Spar. I said “Spa? What do you mean” and she said “Spar, the convenience store!” Great, we lived here for months and that was her favorite thing, a corner store. But I just love Australians! I love their straight talking, openness, straight to the point, no mucking around attitude. That is the key to it. You know where you stand, you know what you get and that’s refreshing and lovely.
Well, no mucking around, then. What’s it like being the future Queen’s son?
Number one, the future Queen? That’s a whole different issue, but she’s my mum! She’s obviously been my mum for 40 years! She’s a mother, like all mothers. She worries; I still have to text her even though I’m 40 to tell her I’ve landed safely when I fly. She still tells me I look scruffy and all the rest. Things have changed a little bit, I do see her less because she has to do her stuff, but she is mine and my sisters mum and she’s a really great mum.
I read that she is your inspiration for becoming a food critic, is it because she was a really good cook?
She is a great English cook, not good at anything that required exact ingredients etc., but was great with roasts and fish and salads, fresh and simple. She’s not into creating strange foods with smears and strange shaped plates, but wonderful with solid foods and my sister and Dad and I loved her food.
What makes a great food writer?
Well first you need to love food and stuffing your belly, I’m a greedy pig really. But readers want to hear your voice. Not just ‘oh I ate this’ they want your opinion and attitude coming through your writing.
You judge food all over the world and are a cook yourself, hence being on The Hot Plate. When you walk in to judge something or cook somewhere, do people get excited and say ‘oh my God, that’s Tom Parker-Bowles!’
I don’t think they give a crap to be honest. I just come in and cook away. I’m not a pro-chef, I’m a messy cook. I get the easy bit and write about food and occasionally do demos and have it so much easier those Chefs that have done the hard yards in dark steamy kitchens. But I like proper no nonsense food like Mexican food, Thai Food, Chili and street food. I’d much rather be sitting on a wobbly stool in Bangkok rather than a Michelin star restaurant.
You were born into a very different life, surrounded by Lords and Ladies, your Godfather and Stepfather is the future King. Is it hard to find your career in amongst that?
Well remember I’m not royal, my mother obviously is part of the royal family, but I’m not. But I do admit I was born lucky on the lucky path. I’ve lovely parents, went to the best schools and universities. But that is pure accident of birth. I will never stop appreciating how lucky I am, but everyone is the same, everyone lives, breaths and dies. It’s good manners, it’s saying please and thank you and using those little words that matter.
One last question because it’s not often I speak to someone so close to the royal family. I have a 3-year-old who always dresses as a princess. Now that we have a new little Princess I’d like to know, what does a little Princess dress up as if she is already a princess? Do they dress up as a truckie?
Haha, well you know there are still Disney Princesses and young girls are young girls and I’m sure they still dress in cheep pink nylon and have fun with it. But you know, everyone you talk about and read about are all really nice, normal people, and not as far from you as you think.