One random comedian, eight random questions; it's the ultimate test of funny person and fate. This week's guest chef is the excellent George Egg, the self-styled anarchist cook, who is currently touring the UK with a new show. Or is 'show' the right word?
"Movable Feast is part comedy show, part lecture about thinking outside the box, and part cookery demonstration," Egg explains. "The twist is that I don't have kitchen equipment and yet I still manage to produce three plates of properly tasty restaurant-quality food which the audience get to eat at the end."
It sounds a tasty challenge, as ever. What's the trickiest bit in this new show-cum-demo?
"So the challenge for me is that I have a LOT to coordinate. I dare say it's a triumph of multi-tasking as I need to remember the script, remember the recipes, make sure the timings are all correct and try not to cut myself - again.
"I think the bit that worries me the most every night is the fish filleting, because it's not especially easy, and neither do I want to have anyone choking on a fish bone or leave much waste flesh on the skeleton. There's also the added pressure that I've started getting quite a lot of chefs coming to the show, so I want them to be watching and thinking 'he knows what he's doing' rather than 'what an amateur!'"
He knows what he's doing right now: an octet of unpredictable questions. George Egg, your Random 8 await.
What's the worst job you've ever had?
I worked in a pub in South East London and they gave me genuinely impossible jobs.
I was working in the kitchen and the landlady clearly didn't like me being there so she'd give me the greasiest, most crap-encrusted grill pan and ask me to clean it, but with nothing more than a cloth and a bit of washing up liquid. And then she was all stroppy when I couldn't do it.
I graduated to working behind the bar when I was old enough and got my own back by drinking my fill at every opportunity. In fact, it was a dislike of being told what to do that got me started as a comedian and lead me to get my first paid gig at Up The Creek when I was 19. I've not done a proper job since then.
Do you have a favourite device?
In the kitchen? It's my Kenwood Chef. It's partly a nostalgia thing as my dad had one and used it loads, so it's rich with memories of licking cake mix off beaters and the miracle of egg whites being whipped. I bake a lot of bread and I've destroyed five Kenwood Chefs in the last ten years. But when they start to get old I go on eBay and find another one. They're all second hand.
In the show? The cement mixer. It's the most ridiculous piece of equipment and total overkill for what I do with it. It looks friendly, it sounds lovely, and it actually does toss a salad very, very nicely.
Ever met a particularly great or awful celebrity?
Yes. The best. Gennaro Contaldo, the Italian chef and presenter. I've admired him on TV for years. He's so funny, and passionate and silly and talented and just utterly watchable, so I was rather overwhelmed when the producer of the episode of The Food Programme that I was presenting this August said she'd managed to arrange a meeting with him.
They say never meet your heroes, but in this case the saying couldn't have been more wrong. He was the nicest. Such a kind and generous man. We talked for ages and I felt like I'd known him for years. He told me a great joke too. Want to hear it? Is there time?
There's always time...
Ok, first you have to imagine it being told in a thick Italian/Cockney accent by a 70 year-old chef.
"Pablo is married to Maria, but she's very cross and she's always telling him what to do: 'do this!' 'don't do that!'. Then one day Pablo's friend Tony says 'Hey Pablo, I got some great girls coming round, you got to come over, we gonna have a good time with them, drink some beers, you know...', but Pablo says 'I can't. Maria, she so jealous, she never gonna let me go'. Tony says 'you got to come, Pablo'.
So Pablo thinks, and he comes up with an idea and he says to Maria 'Hey Maria, I'm gonna go to the grocers to buy the snails' (at this point he breaks off to tell me... 'cos in Italy if you wanna buy snails you get them from the grocers, see'). So, Pablo goes to Tony's and he has a great time with the girls, but then he look at his watch and think 'oh my, my, is so late, I gotta get back, Maria gonna be so cross'.
So he rushes home and on the way he go to the grocers and get a box of snails and carries on home. When he gets to the bottom of the hill he sees Maria stood at the top of the hill, hands on hips. She very cross. She starts down the hill, so Pablo throws the snails onto the ground.
Maria walks up: 'where you been!?' she says, and Pablo waves his arms (Gennaro waves his arms like a farmer herding Geese) and he say to the snails 'Come on, come on, nearly home...'"
What's your best bit of furniture?
I've got a funfair mirror. Got it from a junk shop in Brighton. It's given my whole family body dysmorphia I think, but it's a cool thing to have in the living room.
Which place you've visited was the biggest anti-climax?
My brother, love him, enthusiastic and excitable and full of the joys of life as he is, has a tendency to be a bit hyperbolic about, well, everything. So if he goes to a film, it's the best film ever, and if he goes on holiday it's the best holiday ever, and a restaurant... you get the idea.
So inevitably there's been a slew of anti-climaxes based on his gushing recommendations. I heard a lot about Nando's before I eventually tried their chicken and found it rather dry.
What's your favourite shop, ever?
God so many. I hate shopping generally, but there's a few exceptions. FLIP is on the list, but it has to be FLIP on Long Acre, Covent Garden around 1988, when seduced by the Levi's ads that made everyone want 501s. SUCH great carrier bags.
I also love a good hardware shop. There's a superb one in Brighton called Utility. It's trendy of course, but still good value and they have lovely stuff. And I really love supermarket shopping, particularly supermarkets overseas. When I go abroad one of the highlights is going to a supermarket and immersing myself in it, as if I lived there.
In one of my favourite films, Kramer vs Kramer, Billy (a little boy) and Ted (his dad), go round a supermarket getting shopping after Joanna (Ted's wife and Billy's mother) has left. Ted hasn't done the domestic thing for years so Billy is telling him what to get: with washing powder 'get the stuff with the orange circles!' he says.
Mrs Egg and I went to New York last year and we strolled round a regular supermarket and found washing powder with orange circles on it. Oh my god, that made me happy.
Did you have a childhood career dream?
To be a clown. I wrote to Jimmy Savile numerous times (lucky escape there) with drawings of me as a clown asking to be made a clown in a circus for a day. That, or to be a farmer.
Your most interesting injury?
I was doing a lot of building work on the house at the time (using tools which later became part of my second comedy/cooking show, DIY Chef, as it happens) and I was cutting plasterboard with a Stanley knife. Of course, I cut myself, and SO badly.
Right to the bone on my left thumb. Had to get it stitched up and all that, lost all nerve feeling on the top of my thumb for about eight years. Got a great scar. But that's not the injury. A few days later I was doing some more DIY, this time knocking out brickwork with a lump hammer and a cold chisel, holding the chisel with the freshly stitched thumb.
I missed the cold chisel and hit the thumb with my hammer. I thought I'd never experienced such pain. It swelled up and the stitches looked like a fat man's waistcoat buttons. 'Christ, be careful' said Mrs Egg. I calmed down, got over it, went back to the job with the hammer and the cold chisel and... I hit it again. And that was the most pain I've ever felt.