What is Stefan Gates?
The first was named Jane and the second, Denise. These were two highly fanciable girls in my home economics class when I was 13, and whenever the teacher wasn’t watching, we ’d play a game whose rules were completely incomprehensible, but which invariably ended up with us fondling each other’s arses with floury hands. It quickly dawned on me that great things could be achieved through food.
I'm a man who's man obsessed with extraordinary food and the emotional, moral and mortal significance of what we eat. I'm married to a wonderful food photographer (Georgia Glynn Smith) and we have two children who look set to have eaten every known foodstuff by the late 2020s.
Whenever I've been asked what my moment of culinary epiphany was, I've lied through my teeth trying to make up something clever. The truth of the matter is that I fell in love with cooking before I fell in love with food, and for two very simple reasons.
After University, I spent 16 years working in film and TV under the misguided impression that this would also make me more attractive to women. It didn’t, but I persevered because I thought that walkie-talkies were cool. They weren’t. I worked first as an Assistant Director then as a scriptwriter, director, and producer including four years spent at the BBC, ending up as a development producer in BBC comedy.
I've always been fascinated by unusual foods and indulged in odd culinary quests, and several years ago I started writing about these adventures to give depth to my otherwise shallow media existence. I was discovered as a food presenter after a friend filmed me cooking some strange things. The resulting tape found its way to the desk of a BBC producer and after a disastrous screentest where an entire salt cellar exploded over a plate of squid – twice – and I offered Space Dust to everyone as my favourite food, I was soon presenting and co-writing Full On Food, a prime-time BBC2 food show that aired in Winter 2004. I used the show to introduce the nation to gastronomic adventure, travelling to Lapland to make reindeer stew, eating as much as I could in Japan in 24 hours, eating several video cameras to film my insides and going undercover as a useless waiter.
Since then, I've presented 120 or so episodes of a studio-based series called Food Uncut for UKFood. Then throughout 2006-7 I've spent 2 weeks out of every 4 in some of the most desperate or difficult places in the world making Cooking in the Danger Zone for BBC2 & BBC4. I'm in the middle of the third series at the moment (May 07).
I'm also currently writing the TV tie-in book of Cooking in the Danger Zone for Random House. I've also written for newspapers and magazines and I'm developing any number of strange and wonderful food TV programmes.
Of course, all of this pales in comparison with the fact that, as a nipper, I appeared naked on the cover of Led Zep’s criminally-underrated Houses of the Holy. I'm very proud of my O level in ‘Craft, Design and Technology’, for which I invented a gloriously impractical coat-hanger, and I also scraped a respectable English degree off of Oxford University sometime back in the late 80s.
My’s favourite food is no longer Space Dust - currently it’s shabu-shabu, but this is likely to change.
Stefan Gates 2007