Rick Stein’s Food Stories tours the UK from Belfast to the Gower Peninsula

Monday: Rick Stein’s Food Stories (BBC Two, 6.30pm)
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Don’t mention rocky road to Rick Stein – despite being a favourite of sweet-toothed diners the world over, he can’t stand the stuff.

“It’s marshmallows and chocolate,” he opines. “I just don’t like it.”

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Oh dear. Here’s hoping he isn’t offered any during his latest culinary tour, otherwise we might have a riot on our hands. Not that we can ever really imagine Stein going berserk; he seems much too pleasant and polite for that kind of thing.

Rick Stein in lifejacket on fishing boatRick Stein in lifejacket on fishing boat
Rick Stein in lifejacket on fishing boat

If you’re ever in a position to make a meal for him, however, make sure you keep it simple – he likes fried eggs sunny side up, and as a child, he adored steak and kidney pudding; his last meal on Earth would be pan-fried dover sole and new potatoes. Yum.

Stein loves nothing more than an indulgent late night snack too: “I’m a terrible snacker, as my wife will attest to. If there happens to be some fresh white crab meat, some homemade mayonnaise and some crusty bread, I’ll eat the lot.”

No doubt the majority of us would too if such tasty morsels could be found hidden behind the marg in our own fridges!

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Over the years, Stein has taught the British public a lot about fish, as well as the foods of nations across the globe. However, he’s staying local for his latest project, a 15-part weekday series in which he tours the UK, from the Lake District to Argyll, Belfast to the Gower Peninsula, Bristol to Yorkshire and many other amazing locations in between.

“This is my idea of an expedition,” claims Stein. “I’m travelling the length and breadth of the UK to get an understanding of what us Brits are eating now. And that’s a subject that’s constantly changing.

“When I started out as a chef over 50 years ago the prawn cocktail, steak Diane and Black Forest gâteau reigned supreme. Today the variety on offer is extraordinary; Sushi is now one of our most popular takeaway lunches; we no longer pop out for a balti but enjoy Indian street food instead; and more than ever chefs are cooking with the environment in mind, creating new dishes using locally foraged or farmed ingredients.

“I’ve also seen how food has the power to bring communities together. What is clear to me is that what and how we eat touches every part of our lives. Thinking seriously about which dishes best represent our modern tastes requires me to reconsider everything.”

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Along the way he’ll be meeting up with British food pioneers who have made huge strides forward when it comes to cuisine, including perfecting the great Yorkshire pudding and introducing flavours from around the world to the nation, helping expand our palates and tastes while broadening our horizons.

Then, when Stein’s done and dusted, he’ll be heading home to Cornwall to share his favourite dishes, ones he believes deserve a place in the nation’s cook book – but sadly, rocky road, it seems, won’t be one of them.