Giles Coren is a British columnist and restaurant critic for The Times and has contributed to various publications including the Independent on Sunday, Tatler and GQ. He was named Food and Drink Writer of the Year at the British Press Awards in 2005. He has co-starred with Sue Perkins in Edwardian Supersize Me and The Supersizers Go series for the BBC. His first novel, Winkler, was published in 2005.
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I'm Giles Coren, I'm the restaurant critic of The Times in London and i have a new show called the Million Dollar Critic on W in Canada on Tuesday nights.
Watch the trailer here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OB8TtS8rFJk&list=UUvn_QUOIurGCntss33QSAxw
Learn more about the show: http://www.wnetwork.com/shows/million-dollar-critic
How many people have you shagged, not counting men and prostitutes?
Hello Mr Coren, thank you for doing this AMA!
My question is: what was your favourite ‘The Supersizers’ and why? I really enjoyed the 1980s episode!
Also, you probably don’t remember but I used to work in a little bookshop in Aldeburgh a few years ago – you bought a couple books and we had a chat about the fish and chip shops. I remember you were very charming!
I remember very well. Blimey that was a while ago. Good old Aldeburgh. The fish and chips were amazing. My favourite supersizers? Hmm. With hindsight they were all such fun. I wish we could do more of them. I like the clothes best in tudor but sue and I got most pissed in the 70s. Oh, and Edwardian. and Victorian was very Christmassy. actually, we loved 20s because it was done in north London so we didn't have far to go for work. It was all a top hoot to be honest.
Hi Giles, I'm a big fan of your work and internet presence, but what I really want to know is....
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where do I pay?
You always like a bit of controversy: who is the biggest twat in the world of food?
You mean, apart from me?
Well, Anthony Bourdain is a massive tool and John Burton Race can kiss my fucking arse.
Honestly, I don't know who you are but this is definitely one of the most interesting AMAs I have come across. Gonna go check out your works.
glad to hear it.
What about counting men and prostitutes?
only very slightly more
Yo Coren, you fucker, can you answer a question without fucking cursing?
Your twitter feed is some of the fucking funniest shit in the world.
Question: is there any prospect of work with Sue Perkins? You two were fucking excellent.
no fucking chance, those cunts at the cunting bbc don't fucking want any more of our fucking shit. fuck it all.
Huge fan of the Supersizers. Favorite episode was the wartimes when you licked Sue Perkin's leg. Any chance of doing more Supersizers with her? Kept in touch with her?
Still totes in touch. very close friends. and we'd love to do more supersizers but the Beeb don't seem to be up for it.
Which of your tweets provoked the most insta-outrage in terms of volume of replies?
when I broke an injunction against an unnamed footballer (Gareth Barry) the police and tabloids were round next morning. that was pretty instant and outrageous. it got me 20,000 followers overnight too. but generally it is anything that sounds sexist - although it is never meant to.
Out of all the British celebrity chefs (Nigella, Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, etc) - which is your personal favorite and who makes the best food at their restaurants?
Well, I've known nigella for years and was a good friend of her first husband and she's always lovely to me, and Gordon gave me my first telly job and Jamie owns the company I've just made a telly show for so, um, I couldn't possibly say. Jamie is a genius natural cook and a brilliant communicator and my wife cooks his stuff for my dinner quite often so i'll say him.
You seem to be good friends with Richard Bacon. Which is better: Richard Bacon or actual Bacon?
Nothing is better than actual Bacon. but Dicky B is the most fun you can have with your clothes on.
No sausage roll is worth putting up with QPR fans.
how dare you? we're the best.
What did you do for your 21st birthday party?
Went to my friend Jim's house in Wimbledon. smoked a couple of joints. went to see Dick Tracey at the cinema, had a pizza. he gave me a cafetiere and a purple t-shirt. there was a beautiful girl called kate there, but she didn't give me anything. I was pretty miserable.
On a scale of 1 to blind in a ditch, how wankerd did you get while filming '12 drinks of Christmas'?
blind, deaf and dumb, pal.
How do you stay in shape? Do you starve yourself between reviews/meals?
Because God knows, if I had your job, I'd be the size of a family bungalow.
Sadly, I do starve myself. I'm just a massive vain, self-regarding wuss. I also dodge most white carbs. and do a lot of coke. just before meals.
If the Chinese didn't exist, what would be your favourite national cuisine?
Singaporean, Malaysian, Japanese...
Does it get on your nerves when waiters constantly try to refill your glass when you are trying to spin out a bottle?
There's an article you did a few years ago about why vegetarianism should be banned. I'm interested but I'd have to pay £1 to read it. Could you sum it up for me?
I don't thin I said ban it, just had a go at some of its principles. you can save money bybuying my book online. it's in there.
worst place you ever critiqued?
Balthazar in Covent Garden
What's your favourite memory of your father?
Throwing boomerangs in Basing Hill Park. Pancakes at the golden egg after swimming. him saying "red light on! green light on! go! go! go!" when dropping me at stepping stones school in 1975. him watching rugby after lunch, lying o his back on the telly room floor using his stuffed belly to pop the studs on his denim shirt...
Generally when you give somewhere a really good review in London, it is then impossible to get a table. Are there any places you have purposely not reviewed to stop this happening?
I couldn't possibly reveal that
What's the worst thing you've ever tasted?
Duck's tongues. Pig womb fricassee. Pizza Express pizzas.
Since you had the run-in over the super-injunction tweet and you are in the newspaper industry... what's your take on super-injunctions as a thing, and the wider issue of newspaper reporting colliding with personal privacy? What's your view on Leveson?
the tabloid press was on borrowed time and deserved the bollocking. i believe in a free press, charter-free but i just wish people would be a bit more fucking grown up. i am not interested in intrusions into the private lives of other people so it is hard for me to understand why it goes on.
What is your favorite meal (not home-cooked) for under $20?
Double Double jungle style with fries and root beer at In and Out Burger chains in California, Utah and Arizona.
Could you recommend anywhere new in Manchester to go for nosh?
edit: Or is it a nosh... Do you ever get bitter subs giving you shit for all that?
allsubs are bitter. they all give me shit.
if you want super posh then The French in Manchester is the best bet. but it's reet poncy and not that relaxing.
What's the best restaurant in London for a first date?
anywhere with rooms upstairs... (Dean Street townhouse?)
My favourite description of yours that I ever read was on twitter, and about pork crackling and how it was 'Blistered and crispy like an English baby left out all day in the Spanish sun.'
Where exactly in your brain do thoughts like these live? I am in awe. And, by the way, I've never been able to look at pork crackling in the same way ever again. Thank you.
dunno. just happens. question of thinking of a good simile then changing a couple of things to make it more unexpected then taking something out altogether so it looks just plain weird. then people remember.
Hi Mr Coren.
<blah blah something about supersizers, blah blah> Anyway....
What was your first thought when your sister said she was marrying David Mitchell?
Also, do more booze stuff with Alexander Armstrong! I was wankered all Christmas on your recommendations last year.
"fuck, not another comedian brother in law!"
Giles, in your extensive experience as a restaurant critic, exactly how many people have you shagged, not counting men and prostitutes?
As a restaurant critic? you mean, so only restaurant PR girls. That would be about 7 - all between 1999 and 2001. They're probably mostly dead now.
Why are you so racist against Polish people? You've referred to them using ethnic slurs and portrayed them as a bunch of slow-witted anti-semites. When people complained about your racist attitudes, you simply said "Fuck the Poles".
read the piece I wrote in the times.
I spoke of historical anti-Semitism against my family at the turn of the 20th century. I like Poles.
If you were a pub, what would you be called?
The Angry Jew
How is the Jewish martial arts coming along?
Are you planning on undertaking any future projects with Sue Perkins again? Would you consider it if you haven't made plans already? Love your work xx
thanks. We'd love to but beeb don't seem interested.
Love Million Dollar Critic -which city was your favourite?
Side question: How awful was Rob Ford?
Ford? not that awful. Just a bit of a silly fat plonker. but I have friends who are much less charming than him. Probably best that he's not mayor any more, for him as much as anyone else.
As for favourite city couldn't say. But St John's, which is tonight is a hilarious place and I loved every minute of it.
Was the Oscar Pistorius sentence too lenient?
Being a food critic and trying so much food. Is it hard not to be biased sometimes if youre having something you weren't fond of to begin with?
if something I don;'t normally like is rendered delicious by a good chef then it's a win win sitch all round and he gets a double top review.
Hi Giles, apparently you've spent lots of time in Jungian therapy. What's that all about?
Fucked if I know.
(that's a cleverer answer than it sounds)
When does the dfs sale end?
OK Mr Coren what would your last supper be?
if i knew it was my last supper I'd be too miserable to eat. so it wouldn't matter. if it was just a last supper before going away for a bit and then coming back then it would be a crispy hot overdone baked potato with a ton of butter and salt and pepper and a bottle of good burgundy
Hello Giles. I am a culinary management student and one of my goals is to be a restaurant and food critic. What do you think is the best path of action to take to become w critic?
Also, what is something crucial people don't know about being a critic?
the crucial thing is to tell a story. very few do that well.
i wouldn't aim to go into it, it is a very narrow field and only ever happens to writers buy accident. except fay maschler who won a competition in 1873
Favourite food to shove in your gullet after a night on the piss?
doner from e. mono in Kentish town
What's your favorite kind of soup?
don't really like soup. boring to eat. slurp slurp slurp all the same. love a good Singapore laksa though.
Where would you say does the best sausage rolls in London?
Queen's Park rangers stadium at Loftus road.
Why is it called the Million Dollar critic? Has it anything specifically to do with Canada e.g. on the show, you eat a million dollars worth of maple syrup and salmon?
well, in theory my review cd be worth a million dollars in business to a successful restaurant. that has occasionally happened. but really it's just a top bloody name for a show.
Any recommendations for a quick lunch in central London for Malaysian / Japanese food?
Why do chefs yell all the time? Is there a point to screaming in the kitchen at everyone?
they don't so much these days. it comes from a very military approach to the old 'equipe' in a massive hotel kitchen. but things are more chilled now. better still when kitchens are run by women.
All my English teachers used to talk about you years back, what's it like having a huge teacher crowd as fangirls?
makes me feel fucking old
What was your experience of Westminster School? Did you experience anti-Semitism there? It is still distressingly common in certain corners of English society.
I did experience it but only very mildly at me. other guys were called "Yiddo" and chased across the playground and spat on. occasionally by teachers.
Hi! Before I ask any questions, let me say how much I love your sister - she's a joy to watch on HIGNFY.
What would be your perfect meal?
Who would you invite to a fantasy dinner party? ( you've five places and can invite anyone - fictional or dead)
my dad, WG Grace, ernest hemingway, Debbie harry,
we'd have spaghetti alle vongole and good gavi di gavi. she'd sing then we'd play cricket.
What was going through your head when you published the piece about poland that generated quite a bit of controversy? Were you looking for Borat-style humour?
no. I had just come from the funeral of a 90-year-old great uncle in which the rabbi referred to his father, my great-grandfather, being driven from Poland by the pogroms of the late 19th century and that always makes me angry, and then in the papers there were stories about modern Polish workers in the UK going home because the lifestyle was now better in Poland and it just got me to thinking.
Good evening Giles. I have been excited about this AMA since it was announced. Your writing is one of the few reasons that I decided to subscribe to the ToL and you make it worth the cost. It's a great pleasure to read your commentary on restaurants that I will probably never visit and your (sadly less frequent) opinion pieces are a delight.
It gets me down when I read comments on The Times website making disparaging comparisons to your father as if by genetic accident you are expected to be his 'second coming'. It must take a thick skin to do what you do and I admire you for doing it. You are an extremely talented and extremely funny writer and you have brought a lot of joy to me over the years. So thanks for that.
Although your drinking days are (allegedly...) behind you, where is the best boozing pub in the Hampstead Heath area, in your opinion? And what if you take food into account as well?
Where is your favourite cheap local restaurant (not central)?
All the best to you and your family.
What a nice message. Thank you.
As for the main question: the Bull and Last. I'm going there in about 15 minutes as it happens. Bang opposite the Heath on the eastern side (my side) best food of any pub in London and good beer too. I love it.
If you could only eat in one restaurant for the rest of time, which would it be, and why?
the bull and last, because it is wonderful and at the top of my road.
What is the strangest bit of food you have ever eaten?
maximus decimus meridius
What is the best book you've read this year?
butcher's crossing - a western by that bloke who wrote Stoner. great, great novel.
Do you play Poker?
not any more. taught my sister the game then left it to her.
to be honest now that i earn quite a lot I'd have to play quite high stakes for it to be thrilling and that level the players would all be much better than me., so i stay away.
If you couldn't be a food critic, what else would you choose to review?
books. but it would be such bloody hard work. and it actually matters - unlike rezzies - so quite a lot of pressure.
Any plans to come to Australia and critique places here? Timed with the cricket and summer, could be quite nice.
Would be lovely. But I'd have to bring my whole family. Not sure Oz is ready for that yet...
Why are you so down on pissed Irish plasterers?
Am not at all. Love them.
Mr. Coren, as a pregnant lady who can't drink, watching the Supersizers is torture. That said, what's your personal favorite cocktail?
gimlet. if pregnant replacer the gun with water. nice refreshing lime cordial.
Do you think that A A Gill is a twat?
yes, but he is a brilliant and funny twat
What's your favourite beer at the Southampton Arms?
well they change so fucking often I never get time to settle into one. I love that place though. if it weren't for having stupidly had children I'd be in there every night.
What is your favorite Chinese dish?
all of it.
If your sister and her husband have a child, do you think that child will grow up to be the Greatest Panel Show Guest That Ever Lived?
pray God by the time that happens panel games will have died out...
Though Japan is night now, good morning! What kind of working person are you?
I try to work only in the mornings, monday to Friday, never at weekends and never at night. and never in summer or Christmas. but of late I've been working too hard, and i don't like it1
I love japan though. lucky you. best food in the world. probably.
Helloo, are you thinking of doing anymore tv shows like Supersizers Go? My dad (for some reason) bought me a DVD with the episodes on and I found them so funny! My mum and I have developed a bit of a crush on you:')
I'd love to but the BBc haven't commissioned any.
where did he get the DVD? I didn't know there was one?
Have you ever read the book One Day?
I always consider you to be whom Dexter is based on.
no, I did an English literature degree and am a massive snob. I only read very unpopular books with no plot. sorry.
Where is your favorite place to eat on a regular night out?
jin kichi in hampstead
Have you ever had a bite of food, that made you tear up with joy?
anything that reminds me of childhood: egg and potato pie, stuffed peppers, pickled onion monster munch...
anything that reminds me of childhood: egg and potato pie, chicken soup with matzo balls, my mums stuffed peppers, pickled onion monster munch
Why do you think Bordain is a "tool"? Please elaborate.
I don't really I was just fucking about
I just have to know... have you ever beaten your sister at poker?
many times. but not in the last ten years.